JAKARTA - Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, has been tight-lipped about the United States-brokered diplomatic accord between Israel and United Arab Emirates.
The accord was announced on Thursday and would see "full normalisation of relations" between the two countries in exchange for Israel suspending annexation of the occupied West Bank territory.
Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah, when contacted by The Straits Times on Friday (Aug 14), said the ministry had "so far no comment" on the agreement. Presidential spokesman Fadjroel Rachman declined to comment.
Jakarta-based international affairs observer Yon Machmudi told local news portal liputan6.com that Indonesia had no choice but to respect the UAE, but that the government must speak louder and remind other countries in the Middle East to keep pushing for the two-state solution to ensure Palestine's independence.
"The accord hurt the Palestinians… and made them further marginalised for the sake of the economic interest of the countries in the Middle East," Mr Yon said in a text message reply to The Straits Times on Friday.
Mr Zuhairi Misrawi, a noted academic from Indonesia's largest Islamic organisation Nahdlatul Ulama, urged the Indonesian government to continue to help Palestine, in line with the country's constitution.
"Indonesians should respect the peace deal, but our commitment to helping Palestine will never fade away," Mr Zuhairi was quoted saying by liputan6.com. He told The Straits Times Indonesia should not accept the narrative offered by the US, Israel, and UAE.
Indonesia was the first country to recognise Palestinian independence after the declaration of the state of Palestine in Algeria, November 15, 1988.
Mixed reactions came from other Asian countries, with China hailing the peace deal, and Malaysia's former prime minister criticising it.
"China is happy to see measures that are helping to ease tensions between countries in the Middle East and promoting regional peace and stability," said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
"We hope relevant parties will take concrete actions to bring the Palestinian issue back to the track of dialogue and negotiation on an equal footing at an early date," Zhao said, reiterating Beijing's support for an independent Palestinian state.
Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad warned that the landmark accord was a step backwards for peace and would divide the Muslim world into warring factions, and that "Israelis will add fuel to the fire", South China Morning Post reported.
US President Donald Trump made the surprise announcement at the White House on Thursday after a three-way phone conversation with leaders from Israel and UAE. Mr Trump said the peace accord would lead to greater cooperation on investment, tourism, security, technology, energy, and other areas, and the two countries would allow regular direct passenger flights, as well as set up embassies for the first time.
With this agreement, UAE would become the third Arab country to have normal diplomatic relations with Israel along with Egypt (in a 1979 peace agreement), and Jordan (a 1994 treaty).