SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has responded to a letter from the president of the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Teachers Association (PERGAS), asking him to convey to the Israeli Prime Minister concerns of the Singapore Muslim community on the situation in the Palestinian Territories.
In a letter dated Feb 17, Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that “has been ongoing for almost half a century is regretful and worrying”.
“The Israeli occupation is an exercise that degrades human lives. It has resulted in the loss of lives including children, women and the elderly. The policy to expand Israeli settlements, eradicate Palestinian developments and besiege Gaza violates basic human rights to shelter, housing, healthcare, and education,” he wrote in Malay.
“As Singapore Muslim community and Singapore citizens that uphold justice and harmony, we - and in fact any religion and community - reject any form of tyranny, aggression, and oppression,” he added.
He said the Muslim community here is aware of the Government’s commitment toward resolution of the issue and noted the appointment of Mr Hawazi Daipi as Singapore's representative to the Palestinian Territories. “We support the Government’s policy and hope that Israel and Palestine will work together towards peace and harmony,” Ustaz Hasbi said.
In response, Prime Minister Lee said in a letter on Tuesday that he fully understands the concerns raised, and reiterated that Singapore is friends with both Israel and the Palestinian National Authority and many Arab countries.
“While the situation is complex and progress is difficult, Singapore has always urged Israel and Palestine to resume direct negotiations and work towards a just and durable solution to this long-standing conflict,” he wrote. “We are convicted that a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, however hard to achieve, is the only way to bring peace and security to both peoples.”
Mr Lee added that he expressed this to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he met him last year, and again while he was visiting Singapore earlier this week. He also explained to Mr Netanyahu why the situation in the Middle East matters to Singapore.
“Singapore fervently hopes for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which will contribute to a stabler Middle East and indeed a safer world. I thank you for supporting Singapore’s position, which reflects the interests of our position,” he said to the PERGAS president.