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Malaysia bans Israelis

The Malaysian Government has imposed a complete ban on all Israelis participating in international events in Malaysia.

Last week Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Israeli swimmers cannot take part in the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in eastern Sarawak state in July, which serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah told a coalition of Muslim groups: “The Cabinet has also decided that Malaysia will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives. This is to me, a decision to reflect the government’s firm stance over the Israeli issue.”

The International Paralympic Committee said it was “disappointed” that Malaysia will not allow Israelis to enter the country to participate in the World Championship event. Israel’s Paralympic Committee responded that together with the International Paralympic Committee, it hopes “to find the right solution before July”. Swimmers from 70 countries are expected to compete.

In 2015, two Israeli windsurfers had to withdraw from a competition on the resort island of Langkawi after they were refused visas to enter Malaysia. The following year, Malaysia decided not to host a 2017 conference of the world football governing body FIFA because an Israeli delegation was scheduled to participate.

Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and entry to the majority-Muslim country on an Israeli passport is prohibited. The previous government allowed a high-level Israeli delegation to attend a UN conference in Kuala Lumpur in 2018, sparking public anger. The Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is currently in the UK and is due to speak at the Oxford Union this evening. The Union has been criticised for inviting Mohamad because of his long track record of making offensive statements about Jewish people. He has described Jews as ‘hook nosed’ questioned whether 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust and said he is ‘glad to be labelled antisemitic.’