Kalla Wants Embassy in Palestine and to Be ‘Close’ With Israel

Kalla Wants Embassy in Palestine and to Be ‘Close’ With Israel

By SP/Carlos Paath, Jakarta Globe

June 25, 2014

Bandung. If elected on July 9, the administration of Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla would open an Indonesian embassy to Palestine in the West Bank city of Ramallah, vice-presidential candidate Kalla said, while also calling for closer ties with Israel.

“Insya Allah [God Willing] if we are elected, we will continue to fight for Palestine’s independence. As a first step, we will establish an Indonesian embassy in Ramallah,” Kalla said while visiting Islamic leaders in Banten on Monday.

During Sunday’s presidential debate with his opponent Prabowo Subianto, presidential candidate Joko said that he would fully support an independent Palestine if he were elected.

Kalla said that he saw Indonesia supporting the Palestinian cause.

“Indonesia will be closer and can be more direct in offering help to Palestine if there are problems. The presence of an Indonesian embassy will also strengthen Palestine because Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country,” he said in Bandung on Wednesday.

The Golkar Party politician said that he had been to Ramallah two times, as well as to Jerusalem.

“[My visits] serve to better understand prospects for peace in conflict areas. In order to [make peace], we have to know both [parties]. I know both countries’ authorities,” he said, adding that there are requests to open embassy offices in Palestine as well as in Jerusalem.

Indonesia has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

Kalla, who played a pivotal role in working out the peace agreement between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government, said that a Joko-led administration would also be committed to help resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. He said Indonesia must serve as a mediator between the two.

“We can’t be a mediator if we don’t know Israel. We must be close with both Israel and Palestine,” said the former vice president.

Arab countries, he added, had shown their expectations for Indonesia to play a role in the peace process between Israel and Palestine.

“I have started it. I have met with representatives from Islamic countries and they agreed that Indonesia should become a mediator, and this is very likely,” he said.

Joko and Kalla will compete against Prabowo and his vice presidential candidate Hatta Rajasa on July 9. The winning ticket will replace President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose second term will end in October, and Vice President Boediono.

Copyright 2014 SP/Carlos Paath

Featured Image: A worker pulls down a poster of Indonesia’s presidential candidate Joko Widodo and his running mate Yusuf Kalla after a campaign rally in Cirebon on June 18. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

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