SINGAPORE: Addressing the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Pritam Singh, the Leader of the Opposition, emphasized the need for Singaporeans to approach the issue from a humanitarian perspective rather than a religious one.
He stressed that both Israel and the Palestinians should have the opportunity to live in peace and harmony.
Singh further reiterated Singapore’s call to advocate for an end to the killing, particularly of innocent civilians and children, and to support the international community in achieving a lasting settlement between the two parties.
Additionally, the Workers’ Party voiced its support for Singapore’s significant decision at the UN General Assembly, as highlighted in the amended motion, which urged an immediate and sustained humanitarian truce leading to the cessation of hostilities.
On Monday (6 Nov), a vigorous parliamentary debate in Singapore centered around a motion filed by PAP MP Vikram Nair, reiterating the nation’s longstanding commitment to a negotiated two-state solution and calling for urgent humanitarian aid to be delivered to civilians in Gaza. The motion garnered support from fellow PAP MPs Alex Yam and Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim.
During the debate, Mr Singh, who serves as the Workers’ Party’s MP for Aljunied GRC, referenced Singapore’s founding father late Lee Kuan Yew’s 2013 speech on the Israel-Palestine conflict, in which Mr Lee underscored the importance of a two-state solution that ensures the economic and political viability of both Israelis and Palestinians, fostering the prospect of enduring peace.
Late Mr Lee believed that the pro-Israel policy of the Jewish Lobby has allowed a hard-line stance to prevail in the Israeli leadership, which can have adverse and irreversible effects on the peace process.
Mr Singh quotes Mr Lee, who said that “with every passing day, a permanent resolution to the conflict becomes less likely. The United Nations has declared the Israeli settlements a violation of international law, describing them as a “creeping annexation”.
Mr. Lee also emphasized the reliance of Israelis on American endorsements, stating that a cessation of financial aid and other support from the US could prompt Israel to take action. Absent American pressure, the conflict’s resolution remains uncertain.
Mr Lee warned, “the conflict also serves as an evergreen cause which jihadists can exploit as part of their propaganda efforts to attract young recruits. The cause is kept alive across the Middle East, as well as in other parts of Asia, through television images that play up Palestinian sufferings.”
Mr Singh reiterated the WP’s stance, calling for immediate cessation of military operations and unimpeded humanitarian aid access
Mr Singh, reiterated the Workers’ Party stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict in an 18 October statement, in which the party called on Israel to reject the collective punishment of innocent civilians, cease all military operations in the Gaza Strip and allow for the transit of humanitarian aid into Gaza forthwith.
At the same time, the party called for the immediate return of all Israeli hostages captured in Hamas’ military operation in Southern Israel on 7 Oct 2023.
Mr. Singh highlighted the repeated cycle of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, highlighting the devastating impact on Palestinian civilians, especially children, and the importance of serious negotiations for a two-state solution to prevent further loss of life and foster peace in the region.
Mr. Singh also discussed the impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on Singapore’s peace and harmony. He highlighted the risk of radicalization and senseless attacks against Jews and Muslims, emphasizing that the conflict’s repercussions can extend to global security.
“The same history always repeats itself. In the end, the story on the Palestinian side is always far more gruesome in scale – overwhelming casualties, with a large number of children among the dead. Only the ill-informed could have thought that the latest installment was going to be any different.”
“If history is a guide, we will very soon see the number of dead Palestinians in Gaza cross the 10,000 mark, with many of the dead being women and children.”
Mr. Singh underscored the potential consequences of a disproportionate response in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, highlighting the emergence of a new generation of Palestinians seeking retribution. He expressed concerns that this cycle perpetuates instability, hindering the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and jeopardizing Israel’s security and peaceful coexistence.
Implications of Israel-Palestine conflict on multi-racial Singapore
In his speech, Mr Pritam Singh highlighted the potential impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on multi-racial and multi-cultural societies like Singapore.
He underscored the threat of radicalization and the dangers of unwarranted attacks on communities, emphasizing the need for Singaporeans to remain vigilant against divisive rhetoric.
Mr Singh also shed light on the complexities within Israeli society, highlighting the internal political divisions and dissenting voices challenging the right-wing government’s policies.
“It would be incorrect to think that all Jews and Israelis are monolithic in their views, even as their desire for a homeland where they can live in peace without being subjected to terrorist attacks, is shared by all Israelis, and friends of Israel including Singapore.”
“While the Israel-Hamas confrontation and broader conflict looks set to continue for some time, Singaporeans should be aware that in view of our multi-racial and multi-religious society, this conflict will test us.”
“But it should not be allowed to compromise our multi-racial and multi-religious peace and harmony. As Singaporeans, we should not analyse a political issue through religious lenses.”
Mr. Pritam Singh also emphasized the significance of Singapore’s stance on international law and its commitment to upholding the principles outlined in the Geneva Conventions, additional protocols, the United Nations Charter, and other international agreements.