By P. Prem Kumar
A top minister in the Malaysian government has accused the United States of hypocrisy in its criticism of Russia for supplying arms to separatist groups, stating that the U.S. is just as guilty in that is supplying war weapons to those killing innocent Palestinians in Gaza.
“A lot of people are making very hypocritical statements, especially in the last week where Western leaders were saying it is obvious the weapons were supplied by the Russians to the rebels in order to shoot down the plane," Mukhriz Mahathir, the chief minister of the northern state of Kedah told the Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
“This begs the question, who then supplied weapons that Israel is using against Palestinians? They need to be careful with statements like that.”
Last Thursday, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is believed to have been shot down in the Eastern Ukraine while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, resulting in the death of all 298 on-board.
The U.S. and Britain have since threatened sanctions against Russia for allegedly supplying weapons to the separatists.
Andrei Purgin, a deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, has denied the accusations, saying all its weapons were stolen from the Ukrainian government.
The British government has also been accused of double standards, the head of French President Francois Hollande’s ruling Socialist ruling party calling Prime Minister David Cameron a “hypocrite” Tuesday night over Britain's arms sales to Russia.
The British government had insisted that any arms licenses granted for equipment to the Russian military had been suspended in the wake of the MH17 disaster, but the Independent newspaper reported Wednesday that at least 251 export licenses for the sale of controlled goods - ranging from sniper rifles to night sights - remain in place despite Cameron's calls for other countries - in particular France - to halt lucrative arms deals with Moscow.
Cameron had singled out French President Francois Hollande for his refusal to call off a £1 billion ($1.7 billion) deal to sell Moscow two helicopter carriers in the wake of the aircraft being downed.
Malaysian minister Mahathir is the political heir of influential former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who has frequently criticized former U.S. President George W. Bush, Vice-President Al Gore and former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for their countries involvement in the Middle East and their backing of Israel.
He asked Wednesday that the world not speculate on the downing of MH17" until a formal independent investigation is undertaken that points to the identity of the shooter."
“[We] and the families of the MH17 victims would like to know the motive of the shooter. What they wanted to achieve by shooting a civilian plane. Was this planned or an accident?” he said.
At least 609 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have died in Israel and Palestine over the last two weeks, most Palestinians dying during Israel's bombing campaign and subsequent ground invasion in Gaza.
The United Nations office of humanitarian affairs has said that civilians made up at least 75 percent of Palestinian deaths, many of them children.
Meanwhile, the international community has stepped up diplomatic efforts to revive an Egyptian brokered cease-fire proposal that was rejected by Hamas.
Mahathir said that the U.S. has been promising to assist in ceasefires for years, but little had been done to help the Palestinians beyond that.
"Have we ever seen [the U.S. looking for] a possible closure to this?”
The Palestinian situation began in 1917 when the British Balfour declaration promised a national home for Jewish people in Palestine. By 1948 a newly-formed state inside of the Palestine boundary named "Israel" had declared independence, which resulted in 700,000 Palestinians fleeing or being expelled and hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns destroyed.
The diaspora has since become one of the largest in the world, refugees spread across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other countries, while many were settled in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians commemorate “nakba” - “the day of catastrophe” - on May 15. in memory of the expulsion.
The right of return to pre-1948 homes is still a demand for many Palestinians, especially Gaza's Hamas goverment - deemed a terrorist organisation by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union, amongst others - and what many see as fuelling the Palestianin-Israeli crisis.
*Anadolu Agency correspondent Assed Baig contributed to this story from London.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.