Malaysia

Anwar, Nik Aziz to meet over Israel remarks tomorrow

By Clara Chooi
February 20, 2012

Nik Aziz (right) previously said Anwar needed to retract his statement on Israel unless it had been misreported. — File picNik Aziz (right) previously said Anwar needed to retract his statement on Israel unless it had been misreported. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will meet with PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat tomorrow to explain his controversial statement supporting “all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel”.

PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar confirmed the meeting at the press conference here this afternoon but stressed that there was no misunderstanding between the PKR de facto leader and PAS on the matter.

He said Anwar had been clear in his remarks made during a recent interview with the influential Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and had not expressly declared his open support for Israel’s Zionist regime.

“What is important is ... did he even say he endorses Israel? No,” Mahfuz said.

He acknowledged Anwar’s contention that his support for Israel’s security is dependent on the Jewish state not thwarting the Palestinians’ ambitions for statehood.

“If that condition is not fulfilled, which it has not been thus far, then surely he (Anwar) does not support Israel,” said Mahfuz.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal had quoted Anwar as saying in an interview that he supported “all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel.”

But the newspaper said Anwar stopped short of saying he would open diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, a step the former deputy prime minister said remains contingent on Israel respecting the aspirations of Palestinians.

In response, Anwar blamed Umno for smearing him and omitting his remarks in the same report that were in support of Palestinians.

“My statement clearly makes the aspirations of Palestinians who want justice, peace and respect for their dignity a condition for Israel’s demands that its safety is guaranteed,” the opposition leader said in a press statement.

The PAS Ulama Council decided last week that Anwar needs to retract his remarks made during an interview with the Wall Street Journal, if indeed they were his own.

According to Nik Aziz, the council had also decided the opposition leader must withdraw his statement unless the newspaper had misreported his statement.