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An Israeli delegation attended the UN Habitat conference in Malaysia – the first time in 53 years that an Israeli diplomat has set foot in the Muslim-majority country. 

By: JNS.org

A three-person delegation representing Israel at the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN Habitat) conference in Kuala Lumpur marks the first visit of an Israeli diplomat to Malaysia in 53 years.

David Roet, former deputy permanent representative to the United Nations led the delegation to the Muslim-majority country in Southeast Asia, following diplomatic pressure on Malaysia from Israel’s delegation to the UN and the Israeli embassy in Kenya, where UN Habitat is headquartered.

Malaysia, which like many Muslim countries does not have official ties with Israel, was forced to accept the delegation as all UN member nations were permitted to attend.

Roet indicated that Malaysia would not be establishing diplomatic ties with Israel anytime soon, though he met with senior Malaysian officials. Roet reportedly told the officials that Israel is open to relations and does not view Malaysia as an enemy. Israel and Malaysia currently maintain limited trade relations, primarily through the company Intel, which operates facilities in both countries.

On Twitter, Roet wrote that, “I have great hopes for good relations between our two countries in the future.”

Malaysia prevented a pair of Israeli windsurfers from competing in the Youth Sailing World Championships in 2015.

The other participants in the Israeli delegation were former minister Ophir Pines-Paz, director of the Institute for Local Government at Tel Aviv University, and Eran Razin, director of Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Urban and Regional Studies.

The next UN Habitat conference will be held in Abu Dhabi in 2020.

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