Singapore PM Lee congratulates new Palestinian PM, offers support for two-state solution

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written a letter of congratulations to the new Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Dr Mohammad Mustafa on his appointment. The letter has been shared as a media release by the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Singapore plane ready for Gaza aid airdrop
File photo of a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) plane preparing for Gaza aid airdrop. Sharing this photo on March 15, Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong posted: “@TheRSAF, at the invitation of the Jordanian govt, will air drop humanitarian aid supplies to Gaza together with the Royal Jordanian Air Force. I thank HM King Abdullah II & his govt for facilitating Singapore’s humanitarian assistance for Gaza.” Photo courtesy: X/@leehsienloong

PM Lee wrote in the letter, dated April 5, 2024, that “Singapore is deeply concerned about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza” and offered his support for “a negotiated two-state solution” that could bring “durable peace between Israelis and Palestinians”.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has nearly flattened the Gaza Strip is now just a day shy of the six-month mark. The war began on October 7, 2023, with massive rocket attacks launched at southern Israel by Hamas, a designated terrorist group that is the de facto governing body in Gaza. Hamas militants also raided Israeli homes, killing civilians and hundreds of hostages.

While the world was stunned by the October 7 terrorist attack, Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu immediately said that his country was in a state of war. And thus began the Israeli counter-strikes on Gaza.

Many of the Israeli hostages still remain in captivity, in the hands of Hamas, and Netanyahu has ruled out a ceasefire until and unless all of them are released. Hamas remains recalcitrant and wants a ceasefire before any hostage release. That means an impasse.

As civilians in Gaza face an acute shortage of food, water, and medical supplies, Singapore is one of the countries that have joined the international aid effort.

Singapore Air Force mission crew packing Gaza aid
Singapore Air Force mission crew packing Gaza aid before the airdop operation. Photo courtesy: Facebook/The Republic of Singapore Air Force

The first airdrop of relief material took place on March 20, as a C-130 transport aircraft, from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) fleet, took off from the King Abdullah II airbase in Jordan. The C-130 plane returned to the Paya Lebar Air Base in early April after a two-week deployment in the Middle East.

Singapore Air Force C-130 deployed for Gaza aid
Singapore Air Force C-130 aircraft arriving at Paya Lebar Air Base after two-week deployment in Jordan for Gaza aid. Photo courtesy: Facebook/The Republic of Singapore Air Force

A March 17 media release from the MFA said: “Singapore continues to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and urges all parties to allow for the immediate, safe and unhindered provision of humanitarian aid to affected civilians in Gaza.”

In the backdrop of this crisis, PM Lee offered his “warmest congratulations” to Mustafa on the latter’s appointment “as Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Palestinian Authority (PA)”.

The Singapore premier’s letter said: “Your appointment comes at a very challenging time. Singapore is deeply concerned about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. We support an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to allow for the swift and unhindered delivery of aid. Singapore has delivered three tranches of humanitarian assistance to Gaza and deployed a Republic of Singapore Air Force aircraft for airdrop missions.”

Outlining the ways in which Singapore has been supporting the Palestinian Authority over the past few years, PM Lee wrote: “Singapore’s Enhanced Technical Assistance Package (ETAP) also supports the PA’s capacity-building efforts. More than 700 Palestinian officials have attended training courses and study visits under the ETAP so far. In 2022, Singapore established our Representative Office in Ramallah to further facilitate our engagements with the PA.”

As for the way forward, PM Lee wrote to PM Mustafa: “Singapore continues to believe that a negotiated two-state solution, consistent with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, is the only viable path to a comprehensive, just, and durable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

He concluded the letter saying: “I look forward to meeting you, and invite you to visit Singapore at a mutually convenient time. Until then, I wish you success in your new position.”