Singapore’s leader to Netanyahu: Our nations are ‘old friends’

During Netanyahu’s visit to the island city-state, Singapore’s prime minister referred to Israel and Singapore as ‘old friends’ and expressed hope for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong conveyed his country’s support for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians during a joint press conference on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Presidential Palace in Singapore.

“We’ve consistently believed that a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, however hard to achieve, is the only way to bring peace and security to both peoples and the Middle East,” he said.

Lee also touched upon his country’s friendly relations with the Jewish state dating back to Singapore’s gaining of independence in 1965, when Israel helped the city-state establish the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

“We are old friends, Singapore and Israel,” he stated. “It goes back to defense cooperation, to the Israeli assistance to the SAF when first Singapore became independent and was defenseless and needed to build up an armed force from scratch, for which we will always be grateful.”

Lee implied that Singapore’s perspective on the Israel-Palestinian conflict is also largely shaped by its ties with many Muslim countries as well as by its own Muslim population.

“(The Israel-Palestinian conflict) is, especially for Muslims, an emotional issue, and Singapore is in Southeast Asia, surrounded by Muslim-majority countries, and we ourselves have a significant Muslim population who are an important part of our harmonious, multi-racial society,” he explained. “We are also good friends with the Palestinian National Authority and with many Arab countries.”

“We know that it is a very complex situation, but we hope that Israel and Palestine can resume direct negotiations and make progress towards a just and durable solution to this long-standing and often unfortunately violent conflict,” Lee said.

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News