Indonesia reiterates call for Palestinian independence

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi meeting her Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi in Amman yesterday.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi meeting her Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi in Amman yesterday.PHOTO: INDONESIAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Indonesian Foreign Minister on three-nation tour to garner support following Trump's Jerusalem decision

Indonesia will continue to support Palestine in its struggle for independence, in spite of United States President Donald Trump's recent decision on Jerusalem, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said yesterday.

"The unilateral US statement on the status of Jerusalem will not alter Indonesia's strong diplomatic commitment to fight for Palestinian independence," she said in a statement after meeting her Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi in Amman.

Indonesia's top diplomat is in the Jordanian capital as part of a three-nation tour that includes stops in Turkey and Belgium in a bid to garner political support for Palestine.

Her trip comes days after a controversial announcement by the US President to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the historic city regarded as holy by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Mr Trump's announcement last Wednesday, a reversal of decades of US policy, has been met with angry protests around the world, including in Malaysia and Indonesia.

World leaders have also criticised the move as going against international law, warning that it could set back the peace process and embolden extremists and hardliners.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo strongly condemned Mr Trump's decision, and urged the US to reconsider it.

Yesterday, some 1,000 protesters held a rally in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta, burning US and Israeli flags and images of Mr Trump.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country currently chairs the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has convened an emergency leaders' summit in Istanbul to be held tomorrow, which Mr Joko and Ms Retno will attend.

Ms Retno will then continue to Brussels for talks with European Union representatives on the issue.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will also attend the summit of the OIC, a 57-nation grouping of Muslim-majority countries, which seeks to secure a concerted response to the US decision.

Israel captured East Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967, and later declared the city as its capital in 1980, a move opposed to this day by the international community. Many back a two-state solution, with East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state, and see the US move as a rejection of that idea.

In her meeting with Mr Ayman, Ms Retno affirmed that Mr Joko strongly condemned the US move.

"We all have a moral responsibility to stop the injustices facing the Palestinian people," she added.

University of Indonesia international law expert Hikmahanto Juwana said Mr Joko's decision to attend the OIC meeting shows that Indonesia is serious in its support for Palestine. He added that what the Indonesian government is doing "fits its people's aspirations" to see an independent Palestine.

Dr Fitri Bintang Timur of Jakarta's Centre for Strategic and International Studies agreed, saying that efforts by Mr Joko's administration - like on the Rohingya issue - continue to reflect its support for fellow Muslims around the world.

Meanwhile, former Saudi intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal, in a letter to Mr Trump published in a Saudi newspaper yesterday, called his move a domestic political ploy that would stoke violence.

"Bloodshed and mayhem will follow your opportunistic attempt to make electoral gain," he wrote.

"Your action has emboldened the most extreme elements in the Israeli society (and) equally emboldened Iran and its terrorist minions to claim that they are the legitimate defenders of Palestinian rights."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2017, with the headline 'Indonesia reiterates call for Palestinian independence'. Print Edition | Subscribe