The United States’ announcement of a new vision for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, touted as the “Deal of the Century”, is a “mockery”, the Prime Minister of Malaysia told an international conference in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
Speaking at the International Conference on the Question of Palestine, Mahathir Mohamad also slammed “the ultimate dishonest brokerage” of the unilateral proposal, saying that his country “finds the plan utterly unacceptable and grossly unjust”.
Under the theme “South-East Asian Support for the Rights of the Palestinian People”, the two-day Conference – which brought together over 300 government and civil society representatives – was organized by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in partnership with the Government of Malaysia and the Perdana Global Peace Foundation.
Prime Minister Mahathir went on to urge member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to continue their cooperation not only in political and economic affairs, but also in the pursuit of justice and peace for the Palestinian people.
“Our collective voice regionally should…extend a united front in supporting the rights of the Palestinians,” the Prime Minister said, calling that “the primary purpose of this peace conference.”
Committee Chair Cheikh Niang also underscored the region’s strong commitment to the Palestinian cause.
“The peoples of this region have a long-standing, principled support for the quest of the Palestinian people to be free from oppression and occupation”, he said, explaining that they, like the people of many developing countries, endured hard struggles to free themselves and gain independence and sovereignty.
He pointed out that almost all ASEAN countries have recognized the State of Palestine and called for more active engagement in establishing a multilateral mechanism for negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
Stefan Priesner, UN Resident Coordinator who represented Secretary-General António Guterres, said that the deteriorating situation on the ground further erodes the possibility of a viable and contiguous Palestine based on the two-State formula.
He underscored the UN position that if the annexation of territory in the occupied West Bank were implemented, it would not only be illegal under international law, but also close the door to negotiations.
Moreover, it would have negative repercussions across the region and severely undermine opportunities for peace.
Meanwhile, Palestine’s UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour emphasized that Palestinians do not need a new plan, but a mechanism to implement existing agreements and UN resolutions.
To defeat the US vision, Palestinians must first “put our house in order,” and overcome internal divisions, namely between Hamas and the Palestinian National Authority, he stressed, calling for national unity and elections across the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
In the ensuing panel discussion, experts presented their perspectives on the US plan and reported on the current realities of Palestinian life under occupation, including the consequent political and socioeconomic challenges.