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Jakarta Post
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Indonesia calls for progress in Middle East peace talks

  • Satria Sambijantoro

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sat, March 23 2013 | 01:13 pm

Indonesia is calling on all concerned parties to make progress on the peace process in the Middle East, saying that a breakthrough is needed to resolve the enduring conflicts between Palestine and Israel.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that “every party needs to [kick start the] momentum and [begin the] positive development to make progress”.

The peace process in the Middle East has experienced a “setback” in the middle of positive developments on other international issues, Marty added.

He underlined the US’ significant role in pushing Israel and Palestine to resume the peace talks that have stalled over the years.

“Of course the US, as both an independent country and a member of the Middle East quartet, is a major country that is able to make progress in this peace process,” he added.

US President Barack Obama embarked on a state visit to the Mideast region this week, with the newly-reelected leader visiting Israel, Palestine and Jordan.

Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians finally topped the agenda on the second day of Obama’s visit to the region, as he urged both sides to resume talks.

However, he also underlined that the US would be fully committed to ensuring the security of Israel, its closest ally in the Mideast region, describing the alliance between the countries as “eternal” as the Jewish country is currently under the cross-hair of Iran and its nuclear program.

Obama’s statement, meanwhile, was seen as evidence of support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his persistence in continuing Jewish settlement in Palestine-claimed areas — seen as the main impediment in the development of peace talks with Palestine — although Obama himself hinted that he already pressed Israel on the issue.  

“It is clear that the US is on the side of Israel, not Palestine,” said Hafidz Usman of Nahdlatul ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, on Friday, when asked for comment on Obama’s political gesture in his state visit to the two countries mired in conflict.

He added that, at the time being, the only way to ensure progress on peace talks was for Indonesia and other Islamic nations in the Mideast region to unite in a political push toward Israel.

Analysts have expressed skepticism that the US president could make a significant breakthrough in resuming peace talks in his state visit to the restive region.

Making progress in peace talks there would be “more challenging” for Obama in his second term as US President, as he would have to divide his diplomatic attention between the Middle-East and the Asia-Pacific — whose political clout has grown even stronger — said Bantarto Bandoro, an international expert with the Indonesia Defense University.

“Indonesia, with its massive role in the region, is a country that is too important for the US to overlook. Obama must be smart in the Mideast and make progress without abandoning his pivot in the Asia-Pacific,” Bantarto told the Post.

Obama’s visit also came at a time when the country’s international diplomatic power might be in decline, observers have said, referring to the recent defeat of US and Israel in the lobby within the United Nations General Assembly, whose members agreed to upgrade Palestine’s status to “observer state” after an assembly in November last year.

Indonesia supports a two-state solution in Palestine, which calls for the creation of a Palestinian nation alongside Israel. Indonesia sees the two-state solution as the only sustainable option Palestinian people.

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