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Malaysia’s PM Anwar meets with Hamas leaders in Qatar amid US scrutiny of financial ties

Anwar, who is in Qatar on a three-day state visit, met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and its former chairman Khaled Mashal on Monday, according to a post on his official Facebook page.

“At the same time, Malaysia urges Israel to stop the massacre of Palestinians, release all Palestinian prisoners and agree to a peace plan.

“Since the conflict erupted eight months ago, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been killed and injured, with half of the land of Gaza in permanent destruction,” he added.

Anwar also said he offered condolences to Haniyeh on the death of his three sons and several grandchildren from an Israeli strike in northern Gaza in April.

Malaysia “will continue to commit to playing its role at the international level to stop the attack on Rafah”, he said.

The Israeli Defence Force is reportedly pressing ahead with its ongoing military operations in Rafah, a city in Gaza where over a million Palestinians are estimated to be sheltering, despite pressure from the US to halt the assault.

Speaking to This Week in Asia, foreign policy and security expert Julia Roknifard from the University of Nottingham Malaysia said while it is unwise for Malaysia to provoke the West, the Qatar meeting was consistent with the country’s long-standing policy when it comes to Hamas.

“Rather than deliberately provoking anyone, Malaysia still wants to play that active role in settling the conflict and be seen in the leadership role of sorts as this mediator between the parties as a remote nation without a direct interest in the conflict or its resolution,” Roknifard said.

But lobby groups in the US say the Malaysian government is “playing a dangerous game”, according to Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice-president for research at the