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Malaysia PM Najib leads protest against Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 December, 2017, 11:21pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 December, 2017, 11:21pm

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak warned his “good friend” US President Donald Trump not to threaten retaliation against countries like Malaysia that supported a United Nations resolution urging Washington to withdraw its decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Yes, I was welcomed warmly by the White House. Yes, President Donald Trump is my good friend. But as a principle, I will never sacrifice the sanctity of Islam,” Najib said in his speech at a rally after Friday prayers at the mosque in the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya. “We are not a country that asks for aid, not even from the United States. Even though it is a superpower, do not press us.”

Malaysia co-sponsored and was one of the 128 UN members who voted for the non-binding resolution during an emergency special session of the General Assembly on Thursday, with nine others voting against it and 35 abstaining.

Trump had on Wednesday said that Washington would be “watching” which countries back the resolution and threatened to cut aid to them.

Najib and Trump have a chummy relationship which has been turned into political fodder by the opposition as anger mounts in predominantly Muslim Malaysia over Trump’s announcement on December 6 to not only recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but also that the US would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Najib used to trumpet that he and Trump had played golf together before the real estate mogul and reality television personality joined the presidential race. In September, Trump hosted him at the White House.

But on Friday, in front of a few thousand attendees at the government-organised “Solidarity to Save Jerusalem” rally and amid chants of “Allahu akbar! (God is great)”, Najib said, “It is a must for us to fight” and to “send a message to the world that Muslims in Malaysia are united.”

The rally saw the participation of representatives from the opposition. Even Najib’s arch-enemy, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, turned up for special prayers.

Writing in his popular blog, Mahathir on Friday urged the government to follow Turkey’s footsteps by setting up a Malaysian consulate accredited to the Palestinian government in Jerusalem.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last Sunday his government planned to open an embassy in East Jerusalem, the prospective capital of the Palestinian state. Israel currently insists all of Jerusalem is its capital.

In a press statement welcoming the adoption of the UN resolution, the Foreign Ministry said Malaysia continues to believe that a two-state solution, in which Palestinians and Israelis coexist peacefully based on the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, “is the only viable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”.