Israeli Delegation in Jakarta on Palestine

Terry Lacey – Jakarta

Indonesia has no diplomatic relations with Israel but a delegation of six Israelis just visited the country including Latif Dori, a leading figure in the leftist Mapam Party and Amira Hass, a journalist from the daily newspaper Ha’aretz.

Latif Dori of the Israeli Committee for Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue lamented in Jakarta the intransigent resistance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to UN requests to accept Palestinian statehood and freeze the construction of settlements on Palestinian territory. (Jakarta Post 09.06.09).

“The problem is not the Americans, nor the Palestinians, nor the world, but the right wing in Israel”, he said.

The United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Palestinians met in Jakarta from June 8 to June 10.

The UN issued a statement that the meetings were to support “Israeli-Palestinian peace and for the achieving of a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict”.

Hidayat Nurwahid, Chairman of the Peoples Consultative Assembly, and a leader of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the leading Indonesian Islamic party, said “I think America now wants a fair solution”.

Daniel Seidemann, a pro-peace Israeli lawyer told The Jakarta Post (10.06.09) “We have a great opportunity and a great danger”… “…for the first time in eight years we are seeing the emergence of a political platform necessary to solve the conflict”.

But the danger is that should the world fail to put an end to this conflict soon, then as he put it, "we may lose the only chance of achieving lasting peace". In other words the twin state solution may fall.

This week Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is holding the Sixth Fatah Congress in Amman, Jordan to try and modernize Fatah. But Fatah rules the West Bank through a Western-backed non-elected government. His own presidential election mandate has also run out.

Fatah is divided between its previously exiled old-style establishment and younger internal leaders who want a bigger voice, reform, and an end to cronyism and corruption.

Hamas won a democratic election in January 2006 in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Political Islam inspired Hamas, but it also won secular and nationalist votes against corruption and for reform.

For US president Bush and the Peace Quartet (the US, the EU, Russia and the UN) refused to accept this result, boycotted Hamas and supported the blockade of the Gaza Strip. This delegitimized the elected Hamas government, followed by a Palestinian civil war and the Israeli war in Gaza.

The entire diplomatic and administrative structure of the PLO now lacks a credible electoral base and legitimacy, and Palestinians are divided between the Western-backed Palestinian Presidency and Fatah ruling the West Bank, and controlling embassies, via an appointed government, while Hamas rules Gaza, where it still has an election mandate.

The Peace Quartet led by Bush moved from negotiation to boycott, coercion and blockade because it took upon itself the right to decide that Fatah and the “moderates” were right, although not elected, while Hamas and the “terrorists” were wrong, although they were elected.

The West says Hamas must renounce violence, recognize the right of Israel to exist and recognize prior agreements. But the West were wrong to try to force Hamas to change these political positions by designating its party and civil government as terrorist, and this may have widened the Israeli Gaza war against "terrorist" targets to include civilian infrastructure.

As Latif Dori and Daniel Seidemann said in Jakarta this week, it was Benjamin Netanyahu who reneged on prior agreements and dismantled Oslo One.

Moreover Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman were recently elected by Israelis opposed to early or comprehensive and final peace talks, the same position as that taken by Hamas on the Palestinian side in January 2006.

So we need a fresh start from the US and the West. Stop taking sides in the Palestinian power struggle. And stop trying to impose solutions on Palestinians or Israelis. Instead conciliate, facilitate, negotiate – but don’t aggravate the problems!

– Terry Lacey is a development economist who writes from Jakarta on modernization in the Muslim world, investment and trade relations with the EU and Islamic banking. He contributed this article to

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