Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tun Mahathir's Letter to Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin and Anwar Ibrahim's Support for All Efforts To Protect The Security of the State of Israel

(Edited 2 March)

I believe The Star, "Govt releases Dr M’s letters to Israeli PMs", would have been more meaningful if it had published the 3 letters to 3 different Israeli Prime Ministers chronologically.

That would have provided readers to appreciate and understand the circumstances the letters were written against the backdrop of events prevalent at the respective times.

I reproduce the first of letters, to PM Yitzhak Rabin, 21 December 1993.


His Excellency Mr Yitzhak Rabin Prime Minister of Israel, JERUSALEM

I would like to thank you for your letter of 17 October informing me about the Agreement of Principles and Mutual Recognition between Israel and the PLO.

My government supports this positive development and views it as a first step towards the realization of a comprehensive solution to the Middle East problem. As a demonstration of Malaysia's support to this development my country was represented at the Donor's Conference to support The Middle East Peace held in Washington and subsequently pledged a modest financial contribution to the Palestinians to assist in their new tasks. My government has also offered the Palestinians technical assistance under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme.

Malaysia as a matter of general principle is prepared to develop relations with Israel at the appropriate time. In the meantime, we would like to see tangible progress in the implementation of the peace agreement.

The Middle East problem particularly the Palestinian issue has been a cause of instability to the region and I hope the recent agreement between Israel and PLO would contribute to lasting peace to the area.

I look forward to normal relations with Israel. (this last sentence is hand written)


The Tun had written that letter subsequent to the signing of the Oslo Accord on 13 September 1993,

Negotiations concerning the agreements, an outgrowth of the Madrid Conference of 1991, were conducted secretly in Oslo, Norway, hosted by the Fafo institute, and completed on 20 August 1993; the Accords were subsequently officially signed at a public ceremony in Washington, DC on 13 September 1993, in the presence of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and US President Bill Clinton.
This is a relevant letter sent by Yasser Arafat to Yitzhak Rabin just days prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords,
September 9, 1993

Yitzhak Rabin

Prime Minister of Israel

Mr. Prime Minister,

The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era in the history of the Middle East. In firm conviction thereof, I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments:

The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.

The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.

The PLO considers that the signing of the Declaration of Principles constitutes a historic event, inaugurating a new epoch of peaceful coexistence, free from violence and all other acts which endanger peace and stability. Accordingly, the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators.

In view of the promise of a new era and the signing of the Declaration of Principles and based on Palestinian acceptance of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.


Yasser Arafat Chairman
The Palestine Liberation Organization
It is also important to note that the Tun's letter was two months later in reply, to a letter from the Israeli Prime Minister dated 17 October, a month after the signing of the Oslo Accords.

The above is significant because the Tun starts his letter thanking Rabin for "informing me about the Agreement of Principles and Mutual Recognition between Israel and the PLO", recognising (and confirming) Tun Mahathir's stature and importance in the Muslim world, particularly in regards to the Palestinian cause.

Even then, I am sure it was prudence on the part of the Tun to take time and deliberate the contents of Rabin's letter, whatever it was, before proceeding to reply.

So whatever imputation, the ignorant or the deceipt especially, wants to make of the Tun's letter, juxtaposed to the Brother Anwar Bin Ibrahim statement in "support of all efforts to protect the security of the State of Israel", they would be fatuous and wittingly unintelligent.


If the obstinate wants to point and call into question, the last sentence and hand-wrriten part of the Tun's letter, "I look forward to normal relations with Israel", I have taken the liberty to provide a coherent meaning for the sentence.

Dr Glenda J. Treadaway, Appalachian State University dean, in a "Normalization Topic Wording Paper" to CEDA gives a researched definition of "normal relations".

Relevent excerpts:

The most difficult task in researching this wording was to determine what constitutes "normalization" of relations with another country. While the term is used throughout the foreign policy literature, very few sources actually provide coherent explanations of what is, and is not, "normalization." However, there are a few books that actually
provide an "official" definition.

Many scholars indicate anything that makes relations "more normal," for example, humanitarian assistance, trade agreements, etc, is a "normalization" of relations. This would make negative ground more difficult to predict, as "normalization" would be similar to "change" with a direction. However, the verb form of normalization, normalize, might solve many of these problems since it suggests a particular goal and end point within the context of a specific policy.

A Dictionary of Political Thought, Roger Scruton, (ISBN: 0060150440), 1982, p 327 Normalization: "Used after the Second World War to refer to the re-establishment of friendly relations between states, rulers and peoples. Also a euphemism for the forced resumption of unwanted ties, as in the normalization of Czechoslovakia after 1968, following the intervention of the Soviet Army."

These definitions are useful for a few reasons. Initially they note that normalization is a relatively new concept in international relations. The origins of the term are said to be post-World War II and more specifically in the cessation of hostilities between the United States and China during Nixon's presidency (this explains its currency in the literature as a term and the lack of formal definitions). Second, normalization is seen to be a process centered on the(re)creation of non-extant relationships. The important aspect of these definitions is the scope of the action that "normalize" requires. These definitions require affirmatives to make a substantive change to status quo policy towards the enumerated states.

The topic committee and debate community should consider using the verb form "normalize" instead of the noun form "normalization," in the resolution because "normalize" suggests an endpoint to be achieved, i.e. normal relations. This would provide more predictable ground because it would force affirmatives to make larger changes to United States' foreign policy. The definitions above indicate that to normalize relations requires a re-establishment of relations-not just overtures towards re-establishment of relations. This would force affirmatives to engage the topic countries in a substantive manner, rather than just beginning the process of engagement.

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