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Indonesian Foreign Ministry turned back by Israel

Publication Date : 06-08-2012


Israeli officials have stopped Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and his fellow envoys from Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) nations from entering Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestine Administration, to attend a high-level meeting with Palestinian leaders.

The entourage, which was travelling from Amman, Jordan, were from nations that did not recognise Israel, an Israeli spokesman said.

"We have cleared entry for representatives of countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel and we have not cleared those which do not," Yigal Palmor, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, told Reuters.

Natalegawa told The Jakarta Post that he would head back home immediately and that his fellow envoys, comprising his Malaysian peer and ambassadors from Cuba and Bangladesh, had unanimously agreed to cancel their attendance.

Other attendees of the Ramallah conference, including the foreign ministers of Egypt and Zimbabwe, declined to attend to show solidarity.

"The Non-Aligned Movement nations remain united and chose not to succumb to Israel. This incident shows that Israel has unilaterally intensified its occupation of Palestine," Natalegawa said over the telephone.

The envoys would bring the issue to the United Nations, Natalegawa said.

In a joint statement released to the press, the envoys condemned the Israeli action as a "flagrant violation of the principles of international law and of Israel's obligations as the occupying power".

"This Israeli action highlights, once again, to the NAM and to the international community, the plight of the Palestinian people in their struggle to achieve full independence on their territory, occupied since June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital" the statement said.

The committee also asked the NAM's coordinating bureau in New York to consider the incident.

Palmor dismissed the Ramallah meeting, which was to be held in advance of the NAM's conference in Tehran, Iran, later this year.

"Nothing constructive, to say the very least, has ever come out of this committee in the past, and now that it [NAM] is going to meet in Iran under the chairmanship of Tehran, expectations could not be lower,"

The Palestinian Authority bristled at the Israeli move, which came a day after it announced it would restart its bid for statehood recognition at the UN, a campaign strongly opposed by the US and Israel.

Separately, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committee, said that Israel "exploits its position as an occupying power to prevent Palestine from communicating with the countries of the world and to isolate the Palestinian people and its institutions".

Palestinian officials had hoped that entrance into UN agencies and attendance at international gatherings as a state would improve their standing internationally and undermine Israel's 45-year occupation of the West Bank.

Earlier, the Indonesian government postponed plans to open a representative office in Ramallah, Palestine, citing diplomatic reasons.

Natalegawa said that plans to open the office would be put on hold as Indonesia did not have diplomatic relations with Israel. "We must interact with Israel, which currently occupies Palestine."

"Since Indonesia has yet to recognise Israel, we must hold the [plans] because we still don't want to open [diplomatic ties] with the occupying state. We will appoint an honorary consul there instead to represent us in Palestine. The government of Palestine understands the situation."

The plan to open an office in Palestine has been discussed by lawmakers and government officials on various occasions.

Indonesia would have to coordinate with Israel before opening the office. Palestine already has an embassy in Indonesia.

On the appointment of an honorary consul, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Michael Tene said that the ministry was still assessing several Palestinian officials for the position.


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