K Shanmugam: Israel Needs to Show Greater Commitment, Hamas Should Stop Attacks on Israel

K Shanmugam PAP

Yesterday, I made a statement on Singapore’s position on what is happening in Gaza.

I made the following points: 

1. Both Israel and Hamas are in the wrong. Both bear responsibility for what is happening.
i. Hamas had launched over 2,000 rockets at Israel, many of them before Israel responded.
ii. Israel’s response has been disproportionate. Israel can and should do more to ensure that civilian casualties are minimised.

2. Hamas is deliberately using civilians as shields. The Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri had gone on Gaza national television and said that the human-shield strategy has proven “very effective”. This is a deliberate strategy. President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Mahmoud Abbas has accused Hamas of using civilians and has said, “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?… I do not like trading in Palestinian blood.” There has not been one rocket from the West Bank, controlled by PNA.

3. Israel needs to show greater commitment to the two-state solution, and should comply with its international law obligations. And Hamas should stop its attacks on Israel, and change its intention to destroy Israel.

If indeed it is a pure targeting of innocent civilians, that is completely unacceptable. It is an international crime and we would support prosecution under international criminal laws.

4. We have supported the Palestinians in their legitimate aspirations.
i. Last year, at the United Nations General Assembly, Singapore voted for all 17 Palestinian-related resolutions.
ii. We have consistently supported the right of Palestinians to have their own state.
iii. I met the PNA FM last year.
iv. We also supported visits from Ministers from PNA to Singapore.
v. Indeed, we financially support that: since 2013, we have been participating in the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development, or CEAPAD.

During CEAPAD I in Tokyo last year, we announced Singapore’s enhanced technical assistance package for the PNA, worth at five million Singapore dollars for five years, which is more than what several of our regional countries have pledged. Under this package, we have received several delegations and study visits.

vi. Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli met with the PNA Prime Minister during CEAPAD II in Jakarta, early this year. And SMS Masagos encouraged the Prime Minister to send more Palestinians to Singapore under this package.

5. There is a limit to what Singapore can do to solve the crisis. We do not have much leverage on either side even though we have relationships with Israel, the PNA and several Arab countries.

6. We will support the UN in the role that it has taken. We support the decision of the Human Rights Council in Geneva to establish an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate all violations of international law, including violations of humanitarian law.

7. We say that all parties involved should cooperate in that inquiry. There is also a limit to what the international community can do. The number killed in Syria over the past two years is 180,000. Thousands of innocent children and women have been killed. This is more than the number killed in Palestine in 20 years – yet, there was not much that the international community could do in the Syrian case. And thousands have been killed in Sunni-Shia conflict in Iraq in the last 12 months. Again, there is not much that the international community can do.

Political will is needed to overcome the problems and bring an end to the conflict.

The media reports are attached.







Parliamentary Question transcript: http://www.mfa.gov.sg/content/mfa/media_centre/press_room/pr/2014/201408/press_20140508.html

Authored by K Shanmugam Sc

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