KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — The letter of invitation to Israeli envoys to attend the World Urban Forum 9 (WUF9), here recently, was issued by the United Nations (UN) through its agency the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and not by the Malaysian government.
Foreign Affairs minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said in a statement today said the invitation was signed by the UN Habitat executive director, Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif, in accordance to the Host Country Agreement between the organisation and Malaysia, which was signed as per requirement for any UN conference held away from any UN’s established headquarters.
Citing Article III of the Agreement, Anifah said the participation in the forum is open, among others, to all Member States of the UN and any of its specialised agencies.
"Unlike other letters of invitation, the invitation to Israel was not signed by any Malaysian official. The issues of Malaysia tacitly establishing links with Israel through the hosting of this forum does not arise.
"Our position on Israel remains unchanged. To imply otherwise malicious," he said.
Anifah added that the participation of Israel delegates to the forum was used as an attempt to gain political mileage by some irresponsible parties.
He said the forum was acknowledged as a success and had raised the country's profile and showcased Malaysia's achievement in the promotion, articulation and implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
He said the international event had garnered over 25,000 participants with 69 countries represented at the ministerial level.
"All Malaysians should be proud of our country's successful hosting of this prestigious and important forum," he added.
On Monday, online portal The Times of Israel had reported that the Jewish state’s Foreign Ministry had confirmed its diplomats had entered the country with diplomatic passports to attend the forum.
According to the report, Israel's foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the country’s delegation was led by Israel's deputy ambassador to the UN, David Roet.
The report said the delegation also included former minister Ofir Pines and other senior Foreign Ministry officials.
The global programme was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from 7 to 13 February.