As a student leader in Malaysia in the late 1960s, Anwar Ibrahim championed the cause of the Palestinians. Now as prime minister, his moves to stoke anti-Israel sentiment are endearing him to a voting block pivotal to the survival of his government.

After scraping through with a majority following last year’s hung parliament, Anwar has become Asia’s most outspoken leader in railing against Israel and its backers in the U.S. and Europe. He called the military action in Gaza the "height of barbarism” at a rally last month, and on Tuesday he told parliament that Malaysia will continue to back Hamas despite the threat of U.S. sanctions.

"Palestine is colonized through apartheid, ethnic cleansing and now genocide,” Anwar told lawmakers. "Whatever happened is the legitimate right and struggle of the Palestinian people.”