Malaysia won't consider establishing diplomatic ties with Israel until the Jewish state changes its policies toward the Palestinians, a Foreign Ministry official said Monday.
"Tel Aviv has yet to fulfill certain conditions," Foreign Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Ahmad Shabery Cheek was quoted as saying by the national news agency, Bernama. "Therefore there is no reason why Malaysia should review its current stand."
Ahmad Shabery, speaking in Parliament's lower house, reiterated Malaysia's desire to see Israel resolve its conflict with the Palestinians peacefully to turn hopes for a free and independent Palestinian state into a reality.
Nevertheless, despite shunning Israel in diplomatic channels, Malaysia doesn't advocate hatred toward Jews, Ahmad Shabery added.
"We must remind the citizens that the Jews are not our enemies," Ahmad Shabery said. "What we are against is the Zionism practiced by the current administration in Tel Aviv."
Malaysia currently chairs the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's largest Muslim political grouping.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad angered Jews and Western leaders shortly before his retirement in 2003 when he told a summit of Islamic leaders that "Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them."