Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has renewed his attack on "arrogant" Jews, despite a barrage of criticism from world leaders to his earlier remarks on the subject.
Mahathir accused the West of being biased against Muslims
"The reaction of the world shows they (Jews) control the world," Dr Mahathir said in an interview with the Bangkok Post newspaper on Tuesday.
The veteran statesman first triggered a row last week at an Islamic summit when he said that "Jews rule the world by proxy" and urged Muslims to use their brains rather than force to overcome Jewish influence.
On Monday, US President George W Bush pulled Dr Mahathir aside at the Apec summit in Bangkok and told him his remarks were "wrong and divisive", a White House spokesman said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon denounced Dr Mahathir's remarks as "slanderous" and criticised the reaction of Muslim leaders to Dr Mahathir's comments, the AFP news agency reports.
'Out of context'
"Israel is a small country. There are not many Jews in the world," Dr Mahathir - who steps down at the end of the month after 22 years in power - told the Bangkok Post.
"But they are so arrogant that they defy the whole world. Even if the United Nations say no, they go ahead. Why? Because they have the backing of all these people," he added.
Dr Mahathir also accused Western media of taking his comments at the summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) out of context.
"In my speech I condemned all violence, even the suicide bombings, and I told all Muslims it's about time we stopped all these things and paused to think and do something that is much more productive," he said.
"That was the whole tone of my speech, but they picked up one sentence where I said that the Jews control the world."
Dr Mahathir also said the row only showed that it was somehow proper to criticise Arabs and Muslims, but not Europeans or Jews.
"The Muslims, we are pictured as terrorists, unreasonable people, unable to administer our countries, unable to develop our countries," the Malaysian leader said.