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Workers' Party Clarifies Stance On Israel-Hamas Conflict, Wanted More Balanced Approach In Earlier Statement

Workers’ Party Clarifies Position On Israel-Hamas Conflict & Condemns Acts Of Terror

On 6 Nov, Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh clarified the party’s position on the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

He referred to an earlier statement by WP on 18 Oct regarding the situation in Israel and the Gaza strip.

They had previously called for de-escalation by all parties, followed by Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories and serious negotiations to achieve lasting peace.

A debate then ensued with Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament.

They asked WP to clarify their position, as the party’s 18 Oct statement contained ambiguities.

Workers’ Party reiterates stance on Israel-Hamas conflict

On 6 Nov, Mr Singh spoke in Parliament and reiterated WP’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Referring to WP’s 18 Oct statement, he pointed out that there was a dominant narrative in the West and other advanced economies to focus only on Hamas’ actions.

Source: MCI Singapore on YouTube

“The Israel-Hamas conflict is a subset of a larger struggle that arises out of the absence of a political solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians,” he said.

However, he also condemned the attacks by Hamas on 7 Oct.

“There can be no reason to target, kill or take civilians hostage,” he emphasised.

Mr Singh then noted that the latest eruption in hostilities could not be viewed in isolation.

“This latest outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Hamas was not new,” he said. “The tragedy that is befalling the people of Gaza today is a continuation of what has happened many times before.”

As such, WP had called for an immediate ceasefire, the return of hostages, humanitarian aid for Gaza and serious negotiations for a two-state solution.

Singaporeans should not judge issue through religious lenses

In addition, Mr Singh said the latest outbreak of hostilities also posed a level of threat for multi-racial and cultural communities like Singapore.

“Singaporeans should be alive to this and not fall prey to calls, especially online, that target Jews or Muslims,” he said.

Source: MCI Singapore on YouTube

He also noted that not all Jews and Israelis would have the same stance on the conflict, the same being true of Palestinian organisations.

As such, Mr Singh urged Singaporeans not to judge the situation through religious lenses.

He ultimately concluded his speech by stressing WP’s support of international institutions overlooking international humanitarian law.

Ministers question Workers’ Party stance on Israel-Hamas conflict

Dr Balakrishnan and DPM Wong then questioned WP’s phrasing of Hamas’ acts of terror as a militant operation.

Speaking in Parliament, Dr Balakrishnan described the acts of “indiscriminate killing, torture and kidnapping” as “terrorism.”

Source: MCI Singapore on YouTube

“It was not a military operation targeted at military targets,” he said. “Such acts cannot be justified by any rationale, any historical grievance, any religious belief, any context.”

DPM Wong also agreed with this, stating, “Let’s be clear, it is in our national interest to do so. To compromise on this stand would be to compromise our own security.”

Addressing them, Mr Singh said the WP expressed “no less than absolute condemnation” for the killing of non-combatants by any country or organisation.

Source: MCI Singapore on YouTube

He said the statement contained a “very even-keeled approach”. Mr Singh pointed out that Israeli settlers evicting Palestinians from the West Bank also deserved condemnation.

In addition, Hamas was not designated as a terrorist group.

Dr Balakrishnan said in response that he had asked WP to clarify the issue of Hamas’ 7 Oct attacks. This was regardless of whether or not Hamas was on the list of designated terrorist groups.

He also mentioned Singapore’s support of a two-state solution and the fact that they had spoken out against Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories.

After some back and forth, both ministers said they were glad with Mr Singh’s explanation of WP’s position. They further noted that the WP chief and MP Gerald Giam had condemned Hamas’ acts as those of terrorism.

DPM Wong says statement was ambiguous

DPM Wong went on to state that WP’s statement containing ambiguity meant there were questions about their stance on the issue.

“Some might even ask whether the WP had deliberately overlooked this just to appear more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause,” he said.

Source: MCI Singapore on YouTube

Mr Singh said that no one had informed him on 18 Oct that the omissions which were “critical” in the statement were problematic for national security.

He added that for similar situations in the future, they should be informed if that were the case.

“We will certainly take those views on board very carefully,” he said. “We want a Singapore where we have a united population.”

He further stated that WP would update its statement posted to its social media pages by appending his and Mr Giam’s speeches.

DPM Wong concluded the debate by stating, “This is not just nitpicking at words. It is a key point of principle because national security is at stake.”

“And so, indeed, in situations like this, we must stand united, politics must stop at the water’s edge.”

“Political parties should not try to outflank the Government just to score political points,” he continued.

“Let’s not risk our precious unity for short-term political gain, not when our collective security and fundamental interests are at stake. All of us owe this basic duty to Singaporeans.”

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Featured image adapted from MCI Singapore on YouTube.

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