Moving to the Malaysian ruling party for the elections, Najib gathers the Muslims in Jerusalem

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak appealed to Muslims around the world to strongly oppose any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital as he joined his party before a difficult election next year.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak inspects an honor guard during the general assembly of the United Malaysian National Organization (UMNO) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on December 7, 2017. REUTERS / Lai Seng Sin

The Muslim majority in Malaysia, an important ally of the United States. Southeast Asia warned of serious repercussions by joining other countries condemning President Donald Trump's decision on Wednesday to reverse decades of US policy and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"How can we accept that?" Najib said in his speech at an annual meeting of the governing ruling Malaysian National Organization United (UMNO) in Kuala Lumpur.

"I call on all Muslims around the world to listen to their voices, make it clear that we strongly oppose any recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel of all times."

The opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) said it would hold a protest in front of the US embassy on Friday to condemn the decision.

Pursued by a long-standing multi-million dollar scandal in the state fund he founded, Najib is expected to court Muslim sensibilities while seeking a third term in next year's election, although the strategy could lose votes for his coalition partners . The large minorities of China and India of Malaysia.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak raises the flag of the United National Organization of Malas (UMNO) with his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi during its general assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on December 7, 2017. REUTERS / Lai Seng Sin

"To this father of all elections, we will fight to the end," Najib said, directing three applauses of "God is great" from the thousands of UMNO delegates in the conference room.

Najib's biggest challenge is expected to come from an opposition alliance that has regrouped under the command of Mahathir Mohamad, 93, who led Malaysia for 22 years, and the charismatic leader Anwar Ibrahim, instead of the Islamists.

Observers still expect Najib to lead the UMNO and the multiracial coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) to victory despite the controversy over the 1 Malayaia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing in a scandal that is being investigated in at least six countries, including Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.

On Monday, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions described the Malaysian corruption case as the worst form of kleptocracy, and said the US Department of Justice. UU (DoJ) was working to provide justice to the victims.

He held power, Najib has purged dissent among the 3.4 million members of the UMNO, has repressed the media and civil society, and has blocked a damaging internal investigation about him related to the graft in 1MDB.

Written by Praveen Menon; Simon Cameron-Moore edition

Our standards: Thomson Reuters principles of trust.

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