PETALING JAYA: Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today described prime minister Najib Razak’s visit to the Gaza Strip last week as “unwise” and said Najib should have contacted both the Hamas and Fatah governments.
The opposition leader said this in response Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas statement on Tuesday criticising Najib’s visit to the Hamas-run enclave as harming the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
“Najib was unwise and should have contacted both Fatah and Hamas… He should have recognised both groups,” Anwar told a press conference here today.
“As a political leader, he should have met up with both sides and discussed extensively the negotiations between Hamas and Fatah,” he added.
Anwar claimed Najib’s meeting with Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh was a mere political move to please the Muslims.
“Before this Umno had not recognised Hamas. And now they have done so because they are trying to appease the Muslim crowd,” he claimed.
“But by only visiting Hamas, Najib has failed to show a balanced and fair foreign policy in encouraging parties too forge unity,” he added.
Anwar then said Pakatan Rakyat has always recognised Hamas as a legitimate government and will continue to do so and encourage unity between the two conflicting Palestinian governments.
On Friday, local news agency Bernama reported Najib saying his visit to Gaza was a humanitarian visit and there was no intention at all to interfere in the internal affairs of Palestine.
He said the visit was a show of strong support from the government and people of Malaysia to the struggle of the Palestinians, including those in Gaza who suffered from Israel’s atrocities for eight days in November last year.
“Israel’s brutality in Gaza was heart-rending for the people of Malaysia, with them until now involved in helping the Palestinians with various humanitarian aid, so it was only apt for me to visit the Palestinian enclave (Gaza) to express our support for their struggle,” he was quoted as saying.
Najib said his original plan was to visit both areas (West Bank and Gaza) but this could not happen as there were restrictions in the West Bank.
Hence, he added, his visit to Gaza should not be misinterpreted as he was not giving more or less favour to Fatah or Hamas, but instead Malaysia was urged to make the formation of a Fatah-Hamas unity government a reality as soon as possible.
Najib said a unity government for Palestine was vital as it was feared that the outcome of Israel’s elections yesterday might be a government whose policies would even be harsher towards Palestine.