The following is the letter written by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Elect of Israel, in 1999, as released by the Foreign Ministry here today.
PRIME MINISTER MALAYSIA
8 June 1999
Mr Ehud Barak Prime Minister Elect of Israel
May I extend my congratulations on your victory in the recent elections. With this impressive mandate, I hope that you and your coalition partners will be able to guide the destiny of the people of Israel at the threshold of a new Century.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that Malaysia has always sought peace and the settlement of problems between neighbours through negotiations. It is therefore our hope to see the mutual implementation of the agreements signed between the PLO and Israel. We also believe that if the peace process is to be salvaged, sincere and effective steps must be taken to honour commitments.
As an important partner in the peace process it is crucial for Israel to be more accommodating. The Palestinians have made major sacrifices. They no longer demand the elimination of Israel. They are even prepared to share Jerusalem with you. It is therefore timely that Israel respond positively so as to sustain the hopes of the people in both Palestine and Israel. Solemn commitments made by a previous Government must be honoured. The alternative I am afraid, would be a permanent state of conflict and regional instability extending into the next Century. This is certainly a prospect that must be avoided.
The crux of the problem is that no party should revert to the old ways of taking what belongs to others, on the one hand and instigating hatred and violence, on the other. Malaysia cannot countenance aggression by anyone, whether friend or foe. Any country that forcibly takes over land and properties of others, or demolishes dwellings belonging to others in order to set up its own settlements cannot be said to be sincere in wanting peace.
Malaysia is of the firm conviction that the security of all countries in West Asia can only be assured with the establishment of a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the region. This must be based on the principle of “exchange of land for peace” and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The world looks forward to Israel under your leadership, to push forward the peace process with true determination. It is my sincere hope that the attainment of a comprehensive settlement in the region would allow Malaysia to realistically envisage a positive move towards the establishment of normal relations with Israel.
DR MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD