Dr Mahathir Mohamad has slammed Arab and Muslim governments over their failure to come out with a concrete action plan to stop the ongoing attacks against Palestinians in Gaza, saying the outcome of their recent meeting in Saudi Arabia only made them "culpable over the genocide".
Mahathir, who during his rule had ruffled Western governments over his strongly worded attacks on their policies in the Muslim world, said the joint summit of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation last week only showed how humiliated the Muslim leaders were.
He also paid tribute to Palestinians including medical workers who had stayed put in Gaza and risked their lives to treat the wounded.
"Many died but they will live on as martyrs and heroes. Instead, it is Muslim and Arab leaders who are being stripped of their dignity as Israel, the US and their Western allies continue to 'humour' them but never take them seriously," said Mahathir.
The Riyadh summit on Nov 11, which was also attended by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, ended without any final agreement by more than 50 heads of government to take practical steps to stop the Israeli military action, which has so far killed more than 10,000 civilians including some 4,000 children.
It was widely reported that a proposal by Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi for Gulf countries to impose economic and oil sanction on Israel as well as to ban Israel from using their airspace was shot down by Saudi Arabia alongside UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, Mauritania, Djibouti, Jordan and Egypt.
Adding that he was "utterly disappointed" by the summit's outcome, Mahathir said with the exception of some leaders, most of them were "playing it safe so that consensus could not be reached – other than the meaningless diplomatic appeal".
"With that, the Palestinians are left at the mercy of Israel, the US and its Western allies. And they are as culpable as Israel over the genocide," he added.
'Western response consistent with past cruelties'
The 98-year-old former prime minister, who ruled Malaysia twice and continues to be a prominent voice in current affairs, said the Israeli treatment of Palestinians was by far the worst colonial atrocities he had witnessed in his lifetime.
"I have witnessed the cruelties and atrocities of colonialism, the arrogance of the colonialists and the hypocrisy of powerful nations.
"But the arrogance of Israel, its barbarity and colossal disregard for human values equals and most times surpassed the horrors committed during the colonial past," he said.
He said despite the well documented sufferings of Palestinians, leaders in the West especially the US and Britain still stood behind Israel.
"These horrors perpetrated by the Israelis are brought right into our living room as we watched them on news channels and other sources of information on social media platforms.
"Then we ask ourselves, surely leaders of the Western world, the US and the UK in particular, have access to the same graphic images – of children and babies being killed, dying horrific, suffocating deaths in rubbles of bombed buildings," he added.
He said with the Western's powers own colonial past, their current stance with regard to Palestine should not come as surprise.
"It is actually a consistent trait of leaders from these nations who are imperialists.
"If we today discover that, to these leaders, the lives of Palestinians are of no consequence – it was likewise to them with the lives of Iraqis, Afghans, Vietnamese, Japanese, Koreans, Africans, Irish, Malays, Indians, Aborigines and Native Americans."
He said the hands of Western powers "are as bloodied as that of the Israelis with the blood of Palestinian children and babies".
"The world must be reminded that the genocide had never ceased since the illegal creation of Israel and that it is funded and armed and fully blessed by leaders of these nations."