Israel bars Malaysian diplomats from Palestinian territories in 'retaliation'
Israel has barred Malaysian officials from crossing into the occupied Palestinian Territories in response to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's criticism of Israel's violations of international law.
Malaysia and Israel have no official diplomatic relations, however Malaysian diplomats must cross through Israeli-administered areas in order to reach the occupied West Bank.
"Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has led an extremist anti-Israel and antisemitic policy, including prohibiting Israeli athletic delegations from entering his country, not allowing Malaysian citizens into Israel, and hostile declarations with an antisemitic tinge," Israel's foreign ministry was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying.
"Such behavior does not allow for any possibility of a Malaysian foothold in Israeli territory."
In separate reports published by Israeli media, an unnamed foreign ministry official was quoted as saying that "Malaysian diplomats will not be able to come. When they change their policy, we will change ours".
Mahathir, 94, has in the past come under fire for his controversial comments about Jews, who he referred to as "hook nosed" people who "rule the world by proxy".
A Muslim-Majority country, Malaysia has no official diplomatic ties with Israel and has been a vocal critic of Israeli actions regarding Palestinians.
Malaysia announced earlier this year it would ban Israeli athletes from competing in the World Para Swimming Championships, which were due to take place in Malaysia in July.
The International Paralympic Committee [IPC] later stripped Malaysia of the hosting rights over the decision.
In October, Mahathir said Malaysia would be exploring the possibility of opening a Palestinian embassy in Jordan to avoid Israeli interference.