Israel has no right to talk about moral values, Putrajaya says after anti-Semitism label

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks to Malay Mail during an interview at his office in Putrajaya July 26, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks to Malay Mail during an interview at his office in Putrajaya July 26, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — Putrajaya has hit back at the Israeli Foreign Ministry today for accusing Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad of anti-Semitism, pointing out the Jewish state’s audacity to talk about moral values.

In a statement, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said he was “deeply disgusted” by the Israeli ministry for accusing Malaysia of opposing the Olympic spirit.

“For more than half a century, Israel has continued to disregard the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, while committing inhumane policies and practices that are in clear violation of international laws.

“Israel has no right to talk about moral values when they themselves are the exact opposite,” Saifuffin said here.

The ministry also reiterated Malaysia has and will always be a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, underpinned by its long-standing commitment towards the restoration of Palestinians’ rights and freedom.

Yesterday, Israel condemned Malaysia’s ban on Israeli participation in international sporting events it hosts and said the decision was inspired by Dr Mahathir’s “rabid anti-Semitism”.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon in a statement called on the International Paralympic Committee, which is organising the competition, to change the venue if it cannot persuade Malaysia to lift the edict.

Earlier this week, Dr Mahathir said the government is firm in prohibiting Israeli athletes from participating in the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships to be held in Kuching later this year.

Swimmers from some 70 countries are expected to compete in the July 29 to August 4 championships — an important milestone towards next year’s Tokyo Paralympics.

The ban on the Israeli athletes has elicited an objection from the Olympic Committee of Israel which has continued to pressure the organisers to have visas issued to their athletes.

The International Paralympic Committee said in a statement that it was “bitterly disappointed at the stance of the Malaysian government” and its governing board would discuss the matter at a meeting in London next week.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia earlier today said that the International Olympic Council will send an official appeal letter to the Malaysian government to allow Israeli athletes to compete at the championship.