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Malaysian PM Calls for UN Intervention in Israel-Palestinian Conflict - 2004-05-13


Malaysia's prime minister is calling for the United Nations to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Kuala Lumpur Thursday.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sliding toward a full-scale war that can only be halted by a United Nations presence or peacekeeping force. He says a U.N. mission could "monitor the situation, ease the tension, and maintain peace and security."

Mr. Abdullah made the call Thursday during an opening address at a special meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement's Committee on Palestine in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr. Abdullah, who heads the Non-Aligned Movement, also condemned President Bush's support for the Israeli prime minister's plan to pull out from some occupied areas. Mr. Abdullah says it may kill the entire peace process.

The plan allows Israel to continue to retain control over some of the West Bank settlements.

The Malaysian prime minister says U.S. support for the plan dealt a "serious if not fatal blow to the road map" for peace, proposed by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia. It calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005.

Mr. Abdullah said the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians remains the "root cause" of violence in the Middle East and in much of the rest of the world. He says it also is contributing to the rising violence in Iraq.

Lee Poh Ping is a political analyst at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies in Kuala Lumpur. He says the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the war in Iraq have fueled anger and strife in Southeast Asia. "If the situation worsens in Iraq and worsens in Palestine, then I think it would create a great deal of antipathy among a lot of people in Southeast Asia, not only among Muslims," he says.

Mr. Lee says that although he doubts the United States and Israel will heed the Non-Aligned Movement's call, it is important that the organization make its position clear. "But the point is...whether the Israelis would want the U.N. to intervene. That to me is the big question," he says. "It's not whether it [the United Nations] should, I think it should, but whether [United Nations] would be allowed to."

The Non-Aligned Movement is composed of more than one hundred countries, most of them developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Eleven countries make up the Committee on Palestine, and they invited eight other nations, including the Philippines and Pakistan, and a Palestinian representative, to join the committee's one-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

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