Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong finished his four-day historic trip to Israel on Thursday, becoming the first Singaporean Prime Minister to visit the Jewish state – but in the last day of his trip, he took to Facebook to publicize his visit the day before to honor arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat.
Lee met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, emphasizing how the Singaporean armed forces were established thanks to the advise of Israeli military leaders, and pledging friendship for Israel. A memorandum of understanding was also signed on his visit, showing the desire to expand bilateral ties.
But on Thursday he posted video and photos on his Facebook account from his visit the day before on Wednesday to Ramallah in Samaria, where he visited the mausoleum of Arafat.
Arafat, who was born in Egypt, founded the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorist group and led Fatah, and is held responsible for many murderous attacks over the decades that killed countless Israelis, including the launching of the 2000-2005 Second Intifada in which over 1,000 Israelis were murdered.
Lee posted video of himself laying a wreath on Arafat's grave, which can be seen by clicking the image below.
Lee also posted on Facebook pictures from his visit to Arafat's grave, and wrote, "Palestinians revere Mr Yasser Arafat, their first President, as the founder of the Palestinian movement. So when I visited the Palestinian Territories yesterday I paid my respects and laid a wreath at the Arafat Mausoleum."
He noted that he had lunch with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, adding, "we value our friendship with the Palestinians, and want to see them living at peace with Israel. I encouraged them to resume negotiations towards a two-state solution."
"One modest way we can help the Palestinians is through technical assistance. This is why we are doubling our Enhanced Technical Assistance Package from S$5 million to S$10 million," he said, announcing Singapore will donate 10 million Singaporean dollars (just under $7.5 million).
"I visited the Temple Mount"
However, while Lee may have paid respects to Arafat, he also referred to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as the "Temple Mount," in a significant wording given the UNESCO decision last weekend to only call the site the Al-Aqsa Mosque, so as to divorce the Jewish connection to the site of the First and Second Temples.
"Earlier, I visited Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The site holds special significance for many – it is a holy site for Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. I was honoured to have the chance to visit a place which means so much to so many, and to see the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque up close," wrote Lee.
Another encouraging sign for the growing alliance between Singapore and Israel came from another Facebook post by Lee on Wednesday, in which he spoke about his visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.
He noted on the historical bonds between the nations, saying, "when Singapore unexpectedly became independent in 1965, the Israeli Defence Forces helped us to build the SAF from scratch. For that, we will always be grateful."
Lee wrote that in his meeting with Netanyahu the two "discussed many areas of cooperation, from innovation and R&D, to cyber-security and countering terrorism. At the same time, Singapore is concerned about the Middle East Peace Process, like many other countries."
"I encouraged Israel to resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians to reach a just and lasting two-state solution. We are friends with both Israel and Palestine, and hope to see them living in peace together."
Lee's warm words towards Israel came despite Hamdallah's attempts to slander the Israeli government in their meeting on Wednesday.
In that meeting, the PLO Prime Minister called for cooperation with Singapore in terms of vocational training and water desalination, according to the Palestinian news site Wafa.
Hamdallah took the opportunity to condemn Israel, calling Gaza the "largest open air prison in the world" while blaming Israel's naval blockade for the state of affairs – all while failing to mention the local Hamas government that channels humanitarian donations into its terror programs.
He also said, "Netanyahu doesn't believe in a two-state-solution, as the continued expansion of settlements shows…for the last 22 years, we have been negotiating for the sake of negotiating."