Malaysia Summons Palestinian Envoy over Comments on Donations for Al-Aqsa Mosque

Noah Lee and Nisha David
Kuala Lumpur
200220-MY-Aman-Palestine1000.jpg Members of Aman Palestin, through its “projek kita” (our project) donated food to be distributed to fellow Muslim during Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, May 2019.
Courtesy Aman Palestine-Malaysia

Malaysia’s foreign ministry summoned the Palestinian envoy Thursday to ask him to clarify comments in which he told a news outlet that the Palestinians had not received monetary donations from Malaysian NGOs for the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem since 2018.

After the meeting, the ministry responded to the statement by Ambassador Walid Abu Ali that donations collected by non-governmental groups in Malaysia – except for one group – had not reached the proper fund for the mosque through the government of Jordan, the custodian of Islamic and Christian holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes the issue raised seriously,” the ministry said in a statement. “According to the Palestinian ambassador, his statement has been made based on records from the management of the Al-Aqsa Mosque since 2018. However, he has not been able to confirm whether a donation has been made specifically to the Al-Aqsa Mosque Waqf Department run by the Jordanian government.”

Muslims worldwide see the mosque, which sits on Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, as Islam’s third-holiest site.

The foreign ministry also reported that Malaysian NGO leaders issued a joint statement Wednesday declaring that donations had been distributed to assist Palestinians through partners in the region, and not through the government-run account.

“We know that our projects are going well,” Anas Abdul Wahab, media director of the NGO Aman Palestin-Malaysia, told BenarNews on Thursday.

“It was not through [Palestinian authorities], but through other bodies, our NGO friends, that assistance reached their people,” he told BenarNews, adding that the funds were destined for Palestinians in Gaza and on the West Bank.

“With the government, there usually will be beauracracy," he said, adding, “we know all the rules and can simplify the programs we want to implement.

“There is no bureaucracy and it allows us to move faster,” he said.

Aman Palestin sends between 10 million and 20 million ringgit (U.S. $2.39 million and $4.78 million) directly to its bank account in the region each year, depending on the programs it plans to fund, according to Anas.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian ambassador told the New Straits Times that only donations from the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) had been accounted for by the Al-Aqsa fund. He said citizens should ask what had happened to their donations.

“Some NGOs in Malaysia, they focused on supporting Palestinians, supporting people in Gaza by raising donations,” Walid told the news organization. “I mean, you contribute. You raised the money, but did you ever ask who received the money? Who benefited from it? No one knows.”

He added that officials who handled such donations could confirm that money donated by Malaysians was “missing,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

“There are so many NGOs in Malaysia and they have raised money for the Al Aqsa Mosque. But, the money was never received,” Walid said, according to the NST.

“It is good (to donate), but make sure your money reaches the right beneficiaries and use the right channels, including via the embassy or the Jordanian and Palestinian Waqf Ministries that are in charge of funding the Al Aqsa Mosque,” he said.

The foreign ministry, meanwhile, reiterated that it would continue to aid the Palestinian people. It highlighted efforts by NGOs to provide Palestinians with financial, food, medical and educational assistance.

“The government and the people of Malaysia strongly support the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence,” it said. “Malaysia will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians, which is still colonized and oppressed by the Israeli regime in Palestinian territories in the West Bank including Jerusalem, as well as the Gaza Strip.”


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