The Foreign Ministry has labeled the controversy over Israel’s participation in the recent World Urban Forum (WUF9) in Kuala Lumpur as an attempt by some irresponsible parties to gain political mileage. NST FILE PIC

KUALA LUMPUR: KUALA LUMPUR: The Foreign Ministry has labeled the controversy over Israel’s participation in the recent World Urban Forum (WUF9) in Kuala Lumpur as an attempt by some irresponsible parties to gain political mileage.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, in a statement yesterday, clarified that Israel’s participation was based on an invitation issued by the United Nations, through its agency the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the convenor of WUF9.

“The invitation to Israel, signed by the executive director of UN-Habitat, was in accordance to the Host Country Agreement signed between that organisation and Malaysia. Article III of the Agreement states, in part, that participation in the forum shall be open, among others, to all the member states of the United Nations and any of its specialised agencies,” he said.

Anifah stressed that unlike the other letters of invitation, the letter of invitation to Israel was not signed by any Malaysian official.

“Therefore, the issue of Malaysia tacitly establishing links with Israel through the hosting of this forum does not arise. Our position on Israel remains unchanged. To imply otherwise is an indication of malicious and malignant intent,” he said.

The minister also noted that WUF9 was widely acknowledged to have been a success, having raised Malaysia’s profile and showcased Malaysia’s achievements in the promotion, articulation and implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

“It saw the participation of more than 25,000 people, with 69 countries being represented at the ministerial level. All Malaysians should be proud of our country’s successful hosting of this prestigious and important forum,” he said.

Meanwhile, UN-Habitat, in a statement, said the WUF is a non-legislative technical forum convened by UN-Habitat in which experts can exchange views. It said the forum participation is open to all UN member states in accordance with procedures for hosting a United Nations conference.

The WUF focus, it said, is experience and knowledge sharing on how to shape, plan, build and manage the cities in the next years having on mind the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030.

UN-Habitat added that the WUF is recognised as the foremost global arena for interaction among policymakers, local governments’ leaders, non-governmental stakeholders and expert practitioners in the field of cities and human settlements. It described WUF9 as a success with 25,000 participants from 165 countries taking part in more than 560 events based around knowledge and best-practice sharing.

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