Malaysian PM in Hot Water Over Image of Him With Netanyahu at UN

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Talks to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at UN. October, 2015.Credit: Avi Ohayon, GPO

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has denounced as slander reports circulating on social media that he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Najib said late Sunday that a photo of him and the Netanyahu was a result of a chance encounter at the door of the UN headquarters. He said they came across each other while waiting for their respective vehicles.

"I understand there is a picture of me with the Israeli PM circulating on social media, as if I had arranged a meeting with him," he wrote in a Facebook page posting late Sunday, urging Malaysians to "Stop this slander."

The photograph was taken by an official Israeli press office photographer and was posted on the prime minister's official page on the photo sharing site flickr under the title: "PM Netanyahu Meets Malaysian PM Najib Razak."

Malaysia, which is a staunch supporter of a Palestinian state, has not established diplomatic ties with Israel since the predominantly Muslim South-East Asian country gained independence in 1957.

There are strong antizionist sentiments among ethnic Malays, who denounce alleged Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people.

"Malaysia would consider beginning relations with Israel only when a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian people is successfully concluded," according to a Malaysian foreign ministry statement.

Najib made headlines last week when he quoted the Jewish sage Hillel and called for a “new dawn” in Muslim-Jewish relations during his address to the UN.

“Given the Rosh Hashanah violations of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and aggression against its worshippers three weeks ago, I call on the Israeli government to live up to Judaism’s highest ethical principles, and the essential message of the Torah as succinctly expressed by the first century B.C. sage Hillel,” Najib said last Thursday.

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