So I realise that one of the biggest problems that causes the conflict between Islam and Western worlds is caused by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. So I realise that while my Prime Minister Najib and his predecessors make a very strong and clear point against this issue - what is your stand on the conflict that has been persistent for the past decades that in fact was a fruit of British past mistakes? And to Prime Minister Najib, my Prime Minister, how will the Movement of Moderates handle this conflict that has lasted so long? Where do you see this thing going? Thank you very much.
First of all, let me say that it’s not an issue that Palestine is creating a conflict between Muslims and the Western world. There are many people in the Western world - Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews even in the Western world who want to see a state called Palestine established in the Middle East. So we should not see any of these issues as a clash of civilisations. I don’t believe there is a clash of civilisations - there’s a set of issues that needs to be solved and there is a political ideology that needs to be defeated.
On the issue of Israel and Palestine, I want to see two states living side by side harmoniously. A state called Palestine and a state called Israel. And Britain has tried to do a huge amount to help bring that about through the European Union and on our own bilaterally. We are one of the largest donors to the Palestinian Authority. We are helping them to build the institutions of statehood and to Israel of course we have strong relations with Israel. But to Israel we have a very clear message which is that they must stop building illegal settlements in the occupied territories and they should get round the table and negotiate with the Palestinians to deliver the two-state solution that is in both their interests.
We’ll go on making that argument, but I do think it’s important that both sides have to see each other’s problem. The Israelis have got to understand that Palestinians deserve the dignity of statehood. But Palestinians have to understand that Israel has a right to exist within secure borders, free from the threat of terror and attack and if they can both make those recognitions then I think we can reach a deal and a two-state solution to solve one of the great problems in our world today.
My question is about Iran. Since I get it that the Moderates foundation is a really about encouraging democracy, I wanted to know: what is the action that the West is going to take against Iran? Because there has been rumours that the West is going to negotiate about the nuclear programme in Iran and everything is going to be forgotten and the sanctions are going to be removed. So what will happen to the human rights in Iran? Because every action that the West is taking is against the people in Iran so is the Moderates foundation going to care about the human rights in Iran or are they all going to be forgotten?
Let me be clear. I think that Iran, like other countries, would be much better off with a more genuine democracy and with what I have called, not just the action of elections but the genuine building blocks of democracy the things that without which your democracy doesn’t really exist: free press, free association, the rule of law, honest courts, lack of corruption, a proper place for the army and security services as part of a democratic state. I think Iran would be immeasurably better off with those things. But the issue in front of us today is whether or not the world should take action to try to discourage Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and my view on this is clear.
Iran having a nuclear weapon would massively destabilise the Middle East, it would trigger a nuclear arms race amongst other countries around the Middle East, and it would represent a very and direct threat to Israel not least because the president of Iran has said that he wants to wipe Israel off the map. And so for these reasons I think the world needs to come together and take every action possible to dissuade Iran down the path of having a nuclear weapon but I think in doing that dissuasion, and taking that action - and the European Union has put in place an oil embargo on Iran - we should also be sending a clear message to the Iranian regime, that they are entitled to have civil nuclear power if they give up the idea of a nuclear weapon. Then they can have progressively more normal relations with other parts of the world.
But I don’t think we should be in any doubt of the threat there is from a nuclear-armed Iran and that’s why we have to give that issue priority over all others in the actions that we take in the coming months and years.
Can I say thank you very much again to Prime Minister Najib for allowing me to share this platform. And I’m sure we want to thank again the University of Nottingham - it’s a great sign of the cooperation and collaboration between our two countries and it’s been a real pleasure being here today. Thank you very much indeed.
Thank you. I’d like to echo Prime Minister David Cameron’s sentiments; it’s really wonderful that we have this opportunity to meet with some of the University of Nottingham’s students here. And when we started this initiative we were not sure whether it was going to be hugely successful. I’m so glad that it’s been a wonderful success. It’s a great success story because we’ve combined quality British education but in a Malaysian hospitality and Malaysian environment. So I think it’s a wonderful combination and I’d like to see more of this model in the future.