Southeast Asia Is Souring on Israel Over the War in Gaza

Southeast Asia Is Souring on Israel Over the War in Gaza
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim speaks during a rally to show support for Palestinian people in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Oct. 24, 2023 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

In the days immediately following Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7, Southeast Asian states mainly reacted in two ways. Those close to Israel expressed their solidarity. Others expressed their sympathy, but otherwise kept to the standard regional practice of trying to avoid taking sides in a conflict.

Among the former, Singapore, which has long had tight links to Israel, strongly condemned Hamas’ actions. Among the latter, Thailand, which saw some of its own citizens killed and taken hostage by Hamas, stated that its “stance towards the deadly Hamas-led attack against Israel is one of neutrality, and the Kingdom promotes a solution that would allow Palestine and Israel to coexist.”

The region’s Muslim-majority states—Indonesia and Malaysia, neither of which have diplomatic relations with Israel—took tougher stances, expressing concern about the initial bloodbath, while warning about escalation with regard to Israel’s potential response to the attack.

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