The Jakarta Post
Despite strong support from House of Representatives leaders for Hamas to open a representative office in Jakarta, the government has indicated that it will not approve the Palestinian organization's plan, adhering to the principle that the existing Embassy of Palestine in Jakarta is the sole and official representative of the Palestinian government and people in Indonesia.
The Foreign Ministry's director general for multilateral affairs, Hasan Kleib, said that Indonesia, which recognized the state of Palestine in 1988, is engaged in diplomatic relations with the Palestine government only and not with its political factions.
'I'm still not fully clear about Hamas' intention to open an office in Jakarta, but Indonesia does not differentiate between factions in Palestine. The Embassy of Palestine in Jakarta represents all the people of Palestine,' he said in a telephone interview with The Jakarta Post on Friday.
During the presidential election campaign in July, Jokowi promised that he would officially recognize Palestine as an independent state and that he would open an Indonesian diplomatic office in Palestine. The establishment of a diplomatic office in the territory, however, is far from simple, as Israel would not tolerate such a move.
Meanwhile, a seven-man Hamas delegation visited the House of Representatives on Friday to discuss their independence struggle with House of Representative speaker Setya Novanto, deputy speaker Fadli Zon and several lawmakers.
Abu Umar Muhammad, delegation member and Hamas deputy head for political affairs, expressed his appreciation of Indonesia's continuing support for Palestinians. He also stressed the need for Indonesia to accommodate a Hamas representative office.
'While acknowledging that some Indonesians have been there [in Palestine to support its independence struggle], we keep hoping that Indonesia will give even more support, in particular on the political side,' he said during the meeting, as quoted by news agency Antara.
The Hamas activist claimed that his organization had established offices in India, Russia and Germany.
Agus Abubakar, a lawmaker from the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), expressed his support for the proposal, arguing that Indonesia should give an equal chance to Fatah and Hamas, two competing political factions in Palestine.
'It would be great to have a Hamas representative in Indonesia. [Fatah] and Hamas take different approaches to appreciating Palestinian fighters,' Agus said.
The House speaker, meanwhile, suggested that the government would give the nod to Hamas' proposal, considering that the delegation had been received by Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
'Given that last night they met with the Vice President, House leaders will support [the plan]. [The support] hopefully will ease the plan to establish a representative office in Jakarta,' said Setya.
Hamas' visit to Jakarta comes amid heightening tensions between Hamas and Fatah leaders.
Although Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leaders have agreed to share power within the government, Palestinian unity remains uncertain and divisions exist. Many have suggested that the protracted rivalry hampers the nation's fight for independence.
While declining to comment on Hamas' planned office in Jakarta, Palestinian Ambassador to Indonesia Fariz Mehdawi rejected the idea of a political party having a representative office abroad.
'I am not aware of any political party in any country establishing an office ['¦] Only states establish embassies and consulates in other countries,' the ambassador said in a text message.