Indonesia’s Jokowi Calls for Greater OIC Cooperation, Action on Palestine

Tia Asmara and Arie Firdaus
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160307-ID-Abbas-Joko-1000 Indonesia President Joko Widodo (right) shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas during the closing in Jakarta of the Fifth Extraordinary Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, March 7, 2016.

At a Jakarta summit of 57 Muslim nations Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called on the Islamic world Monday to do more to uphold the cause of statehood for the Palestinian people.

Addressing a special summit on Palestine of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the president of the world’s most populous Muslim nation said OIC’s members should collectively live up to the body’s founding principle in 1969 of supporting an independent Palestine.

“OIC should be part of the solution, and not part of the problem. If the OIC cannot be part of the solution to Palestine, then OIC becomes irrelevant,” Jokowi said in his keynote speech on the summit’s second and final day.

“We emphasize [that] as long as the independence of Palestine has not been given to the Palestinians, Indonesia will continue to stand against the Israeli occupation. We, Indonesians, are consistent with that promise,” said Jokowi.

The leader of the host country and his administration has tried to increase Indonesia’s influence on the stage of world diplomacy since he took office in October 2014.

“The Islamic world needs the support of the United Nations in accordance with the U.N.’s roles and responsibilities,” he added. “We again call for the peace process not to be delayed for the independence of Palestine through the ‘Two-State Solution.’”

The two-day summit ended with the members of the OIC bloc issuing a Jakarta Declaration that affirmed the member-states’ support for Palestinian statehood.

Among other things, the document called “on the international community to support the boycott of products produced in or by illegal Israeli settlements.”

The declaration agreed to increase pressure on the U.N.’s Security Council to provide protection to Palestinians and set a deadline for the end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian-claimed territories.

It also highlighted the importance of the unity of Palestine and OIC member states in promoting the role of Islamic countries in helping to resolve the decades-old conflict.

“Although it does not have binding legal force, at least this is a good beginning,” Indonesian Mid-East analyst Siti Mutiah Setiawati told BenarNews.

The declaration “can be a reminder, especially to the Arab countries, that the [Palestinian] issue has been neglected for so long as Arab countries are busy warring with each other,” she added.

But Smith Alhadar, an analyst at the Indonesian Society for Middle East Studies, expressed doubt that the OIC states could actually unify around the cause.

“OIC members are not unified,” Smith told BenarNews.

‘Longest occupation’

The meeting in the Indonesian capital drew 605 delegates from 57 OIC member countries, one observer nation as well as the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.

Over the two days participants discussed six main issues at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – namely borders, refugees, the status of Jerusalem, settlements, security and water.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said he appreciated the major role that Indonesia played in making the OIC special summit a reality, along with Jakarta’s consistency in supporting the cause of an independent Palestine.

“This is the longest occupation in modern human history. Israel suppressed the Palestinians, jeopardizing the lives of our people. Our historical sites were never in as much danger as they are today, as a result of policies that are very detrimental to the Palestinians,” Abbas said.

Jokowi, for his part, backed up his vow to help the Palestinians more by announcing that Indonesia would open a consulate in the city of Ramallah in the near future.

“Indonesia’s position could be an encouragement for the Palestinians despite their desperation. It can facilitate access to assistance from the outside world,” Reza Widyarsa, a Middle Eastern expert at the University of Indonesia, told BenarNews.

Indonesia welcomes controversial figure

The summit, however, ended on a controversial note.

The U.S. embassy in Jakarta voiced concern Monday about an alleged international war criminal, Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, being allowed to travel to Jakarta for the OIC summit.

“President Bashir has been charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and warrants for his arrest remain outstanding,” the American embassy said in a statement posted on its website.

“While the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, which is the treaty that established the ICC, we strongly support the ICC’s efforts to hold accountable those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur,” the statement added.

When asked to respond to this, Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told reporters that the government had invited all OIC leaders.

“In an event such as this, all will be treated equally,” he said. “Indonesia does not have any specific position related to charges against Bashir.”


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