Thursday, January 8, 2009

Badawi demands sanctions on Israel

Malaysia's leader on Thursday called for sanctions on Israel for conducting lethal military strikes on Gaza, saying the international community has a "moral duty" to save the Palestinian people.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in a speech to Malaysian and foreign diplomats that international sanctions have been applied for various breaches of the code of international conduct, and should be expanded to include violation of moral standards.

"On the issue of morality, Israel has to be sanctioned," Abdullah later told reporters. He denounced as "absolutely immoral" Israel's "excessive deployment of military power" in its air and ground offensive on Gaza since Dec. 27 that has left at least 688 Palestinians dead.

More than 3,000 people have been injured and some 5,000 people have fled the border area in the operation aimed at snuffing out Hamas militants who have been firing rockets at Israel. Ten Israelis have been killed in the Hamas attacks.

Muslim-majority Malaysia is a staunch critic of Israel.

Abdullah did not elaborate on whether the sanctions should be economic or military, saying it is up to the United Nations to decide. Still, the proposal is unlikely to see the light of day s any sanctions must be approved by the UN Security Council where the US, Israel's main ally, has veto power.

The Security Council has so far failed to agree on action to end the escalating crisis in Gaza, but Egypt plans to host separate talks with Israel and Hamas on a cease-fire proposal. Abdulah said any cease-fire effort must include Israel withdrawing from Gaza.

But in a moderate success for Malaysia, Indonesia and other Non-Aligned Movement countries' efforts, the president of the UN General Assembly has agreed to its proposal to hold an emergency special session on the humanitarian situation in Gaza later Thursday. However, any resolution adopted by the 192-member world body would not be legally binding.

But in Jakarta Indonesian legal experts said that the UN General Assembly's emergency session will not be effective in ending the agony of thousands of civilians in war-torn Gaza.

"World leaders will assemble at the UN emergency meeting and issue a resolution condemning Israel and beseech the country to stop its illegal offensive against Gaza. But that is all. It will not be effective," University of Indonesia professor of international law Hikmahanto Juwana said on Wednesday in Jakarta.

Indonesia's well-known human rights activist Todung Mulya Lubis agreed with Juwana, saying there was no guarantee the resolution would settle the escalating Israel-Palestine conflict.
AsThe Jakarta Post, , Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta | Fri, 01/09/2009


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