Malaysia is ready to send military forces to Jerusalem in response to President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital, the Southeast Asian country’s defense minister said over the weekend.
“We are ready for any orders from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces … should our services be needed,” Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a speech on Saturday, according to The Malay Mail Online.
Muslim-majority Malaysia has long supported Palestine’s quest for independence from Israel, a decades-old struggle that remains a defining element of Middle East politics.
“We were shocked earlier this week with the worrisome news that would affect global geopolitical stability,” Hussein was quoted as saying.
The defense ministry did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.
Israelis and Palestinians both claim Jerusalem as their capital and its status remains a contentious issue between the two. In siding with Israel on the matter, the U.S. president has angered several of America’s allies in the Middle East and beyond, triggering violent protests in Palestinian territories, Jerusalem and Beirut. On Sunday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard at a Jerusalem bus station, Reuters reported.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said that while he rejected Trump’s decision, bilateral ties would not be affected, local newspaper The Star said on Sunday. Trump’s action could also complicate progress on a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, Najib warned.
Malaysia and Israel are more than 4,700 miles (7,588 km) apart.
Read Hussein’s full comments in The Malay Mail Online’s story.