“Jerusalem has always been under Palestine,” Mahathir Mohamad said.
By Jack Gold, World News Staff
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad criticized Australia’s recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying no country had the right to do so.
Speaking to Reuters at an event in Bangkok, Mahathir said that “Jerusalem should remain as it is now and not the capital of Israel.”
“Jerusalem has always been under Palestine, so why are they taking the initiative to divide Jerusalem not belonging to them, but to divide the Arabs and the Jews? They have no rights,” the 93-year-old premier said.
Mahathir, the leader of the Muslim-majority nation, is notorious for his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments. In an October interview with the BBC, he claimed that truth justifies his statement that Jews are “hook-nosed” and repeated the falsehood that six million Jews were not killed in the Holocaust.
Australia has decided to formally recognize west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but won’t move its embassy until there’s a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday.
Morrison said that Australia would recognize east Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital only after an agreement has been reached on a two-state solution. The Australian Embassy won’t be moved from Tel Aviv until such a time, he said.
While the embassy move is delayed, Morrison said his government would establish a defense and trade office in Jerusalem.
“The Australian government has decided that Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem, as the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said.
Israel however responded tepidly to Australia’s announcement, which didn’t go as far as it had hoped. Israel’s foreign ministry would only say it was “a step in the right direction.”