Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) has written President Lazarus Chakwera to protest his intention to establish a diplomatic mission with Israel in Jerusalem.
MAM in a correspondence to the President through its chairperson Sheikh Idruss Muhammed seen by Nyasa Times has since asked the Chakwera administration to review the issue of opening the embassy in Jerusalem.
“We are aware of the importance of strengthening our relationship with other countries and the role it can play in bringing some positive change to the lives of Malawians. However, we believe that the disadvantages that would ensue as a result of the timing of the move could outweigh by far its advantages,” said Sheik Muhammed.
Israel considers the Holy City its eternal capital, but Palestinians want East Jerusalem, seized in a 1967 Middle East war, as part of a future state.
The Muslims body has told President Chakwera that it is dangerous for Malawi to open an embassy in Jerusalem “as it may open a Pandora’s Box and attract some unprecedented deplorable consequences.”
MAM warned that “extremists would target Malawi that has been safe and peaceful since time immemorial.”
Palestinian president’s special envoy Hanan Jarrar last week visited Malawi to hand over to Chakwera a letter of protest from Mahmoud Abbas on the East African country’s intention to open its embassy in Jerusalem.
“Any step taken to establish a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem constitutes a violation of relevant United Nations resolutions,” warned Jarrar.
The Muslims have said the stand of the Palestinian government that it would sever relations with any country that opens an embassy in Jerusalem would have a tremendous negative impact on the southern African nation’s negligible economy considering that Malawi is resource-strapped and one of the poorest in the world.
“Undoubtedly seeking to strengthen relations with Israel in this dangerous way would be at the cost of the innocent lives of Malawians,” warned Sheik Muhammed.
He said some assistances that Malawi used to benefit from the machinery of most of the Islamic governments such as Kuwait Fund, could be suspended.
“Consequently, Islamic charitable organisations that are used to assist this country through Islamic organisations in the education and sanitation infrastructures for instance, will no longer be there.
“Since the majority of world leaders rejected the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, due to the incessant conflicts and the numerous atrocities perpetrated against Muslims in Palestine, your Excellency! opening embassy in Jerusalem would mean justifying whatever criminal acts taking place in that territory. On the other hand, many countries would hesitate to open their doors for us, as they would consider us taking sides by supporting the minority in the issue at hand,” reads a protest letter by the Muslim to Chakwera.
Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka on Tuesday said the east southern nation will open a full embassy to Israel in Jerusalem by the summer of 2021.
Malawi would become the first African nation to do so.
MAM letter to the President said that would merely exacerbate the “already negative attitude” of Muslims in the country specifically towards the former evangelical preacher Chakwera.
“Our advice to the President in this regard, is that the government should maintain the status quo in its long-time relationship with Israel by making use of Israel’s non-resident ambassador to Malawi, who is based in Nairobi, Kenya or in other close countries as it does with other countries that do not have their embassies here.
“The recent ‘Abraham Accord’ between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this year 2020 should not influence you Mr. President, since our country is different from the UAE in many respects, especially from the economy point of view. The move by the UAE is not commendable either as the majority of the Gulf countries condemned the treaty and some NGOs issued statements opposing the normalisation of ties with Israel at this time,” reads the letter.
The Muslims urge Malawi government to join the position of the bulk of the international community in the issue of establishing diplomatic relationship with Israel in Tel Aviv.
But speaking during the Weekly State House Briefings held at Mzuzu State Lodge on Monday, State House director of communication and executive assistant to the President, pastor Sean Kampondeni said Chakwera stood by the Jerusalem choice when he met the Palestinian envoy in Lilongwe.
“The Palestine authority wanted to register their point of view and the President was very glad to be able to engage with them directly on that matter in consistence with his position which he articulated before Parliament on September 10th when he was asked about the same.
“President Chakwera came out clear on that one, about his approach to foreign policy being dictated simply and only by the advancement of national interest of Malawi.
“That does not mean that if Malawi has bilateral relations with one nation, it cannot have relations with the other. The President is fully supportive of the peace process and the relationship between Israel and Palestine.”
Palestine’s South Africa -based Ambassador Jarrar said the UN Security Council Resolution 476 (1980), recently reaffirmed by Resolution 2334 (2016), does not recognize any action that seeks to alter the character and status of Jerusalem.
“Under international law, East Jerusalem [including the Old City and its holy sites] are not legally part of Israel,” Jarrar said.
Opposition members of Malawi’s parliament have recently also raised concern about opening an embassy in Jerusalem.
One of social media commentators, Joshua Chisa Mbele, posted on his Facebook wall that one of the decisions that Chakwera should do is to reverse the decision to have an embassy in Jerusalem.
“To error is human. Malawi erred. We must quietly undo our decision. Build the embassy in Tel Aviv,” he says.
But Chakwera has been firm on the move and justified his foreign policy decision, saying that it was not new in Malawi, as during the one-party regime of founding President Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the country also had diplomatic ties with Israel until 1994.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :