Malaysia's Mahathir says Trump's Middle East plan unacceptable

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KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Saturday (Feb 8) that the proposed peace deal between Israel and Palestine announced by US President Donald Trump is "utterly unacceptable" and "grossly unjust."

The proposed peace plan, dubbed the "Deal of the Century" by Mr Trump, hands the holy city of Jerusalem on a silver platter to the Israeli side in absolute disregard for the feelings of millions of Muslims and Christians worldwide, Tun Dr Mahathir said.

"This deal will only bring more conflict to the region, and will antagonise billions of people around the world," Dr Mahathir said in the opening speech at the third conference of The League of Parliamentarians for Al-Quds in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Trump unveiled his proposal at a White House event last month alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinian officials weren't consulted on the proposal.

The White House approach leading to the plan has long been criticised internationally for providing Israel with quick wins while making concessions to the Palestinians contingent on a list of milestones.

Mr Trump's actions since taking office - including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights - has largely benefited Israel while giving little to the Palestinians, who said the US had given up its decades-long role as a credible mediator in the peace process.

Dr Mahathir, the world's oldest government head at 94 years old, has for decades been accused of antisemitism for his criticism and attacks on Jews, whom he has accused of perpetrating a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories and creating conflict in the Middle East region.

He also said Malaysia will not keep quiet on the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel.

"We are duty-bound and this responsibility is further amplified when powerful nations that had styled themselves as the defender of justice and freedom choose to be silent while the atrocities are being committed.

"In other words, if we too choose to be silent, the blood from the murders and killings of the Palestinians by the Israelis is on our hands as well," said Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir said platforms such as The League of Parliamentarians for Al-Quds, Inter-Parliamentary Union, parliamentary blocs and others, can be more effective if they were to strategise and coordinate their efforts.

Quoting statistics by Peace Now, an anti-settlement watchdog group, Dr Mahathir said as Jan 7, Israel has approved the construction of nearly 2,000 new settler homes on Palestinian territories.

"Never in the history of nations have countries built settlements in other countries and claim the right to own them. This is a form of conquest based on the strength of a bully.

"According to prisoners' rights group Addameer, more than 12,000 Palestinian children have been detained by the Israeli army since the year 2000 and serving time in the same detention facilities as adult Palestinian prisoners," he said.

He also said humanitarian groups such as Unicef have long documented alleged Israeli violations against Palestinian children, who are prosecuted in Israeli military courts.

"It is clear that these detainees are being used by Israel to exchange for Israeli soldiers captured during incidents.

"For all these, Israel should be condemned and punished. Instead powerful countries like the US which talk so much about freedom and the rule of law choose to legalise the illegal. This President Trump has legalised the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem as 'the deal of the century'," he added.

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