Indonesia will always stand with Palestine, says Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi wore the Palestinian scarf to express her country's solidarity with the Palestinians. (AN photo)
Updated 08 December 2017
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Indonesia will always stand with Palestine, says Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi

JAKARTA: Hundreds of protesters staged a rally in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta on Friday, demanding that US President Donald Trump reconsider his decision to declare America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told Arab News that there were roughly 500 protesters in the rally.
Agus Sudarmaji, the director of the Al-Aqsa Working Group, based in Bogor, West Java, told Arab News that his group helped to coordinate the rally to show their support for Palestine.
Youth groups affiliated with Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), also attended.
“If the US doesn’t respond to our demands to withdraw its move, we will hold bigger rallies not just in Jakarta but also in other cities,” Asep Irfan Mujahid, head of the Association of NU Students, told Arab News.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told journalists on Friday that she met with the US Ambassador to Indonesia, Josep Donovan, on Thursday, on the sidelines of the Bali Democracy Forum.
“I have conveyed our official position as President Widodo instructed regarding US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Marsudi said.
In her opening speech at the forum, Marsudi declared, “Indonesia will always stand with Palestine.”
“I stand here, wearing the Palestinian scarf to show the strong commitment of Indonesia, of the people of Indonesia, to always stand with the Palestinian people for their rights,” Marsudi told delegates from 99 countries.
President Joko Widodo said in a statement that Indonesia strongly condemned the US’ unilateral move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and demanded it reconsider its decision. He also called on members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to unite in sending a strong message to the US.
Reza Widyarsa, a lecturer at the University of Indonesia’s Middle East and Islamic Studies Department, told Arab News that Indonesia could play a more active role as a mediator, in cooperation with a country that has diplomatic ties with, and a less confrontational stance toward, Israel.
NU Secretary-General Helmy Faishal Zaini said the NU urged the government to play a more proactive role in the crisis and “strongly condemns the unilateral recognition.”
“We also urge the OIC to mobilize its members to support Palestine’s independence,” Zaini added.
Yenny Wahid, director of the Wahid Foundation and daughter of the late President Abdurrahman Wahid, said the decision could trigger global instability, especially in Muslim-majority countries.
The head of the Indonesian Ulema Council Advisory Board and chairman of the Indonesia-Palestine Friendship Initiative, Din Syamsuddin, said in a statement that the American move “clearly puts a dead end on the long-standing peace process.”
“It could also spur radicalism among Muslims who react to the global injustice that the US has created,” Syamsuddin added.
Indonesia’s ruling party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), said it “deeply regrets” the decision and has instructed its cadres who are members of the House of Representatives’ Commission I, which oversees foreign policy, to take active and progressive measures to support Palestinian independence.
“Efforts to support Palestine’s independence should be the main guideline for all Indonesia’s diplomacy,” the party’s secretary general Hasto Kristiyanto said.


More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

Updated 36 min 44 sec ago
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More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

DURBAN: At least 60 people have been killed and more than 1,000 have fled their homes after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides along South Africa’s eastern coast, authorities said on Wednesday.
Most of the deaths were in KwaZulu-Natal province. Flooding also killed at least three people in neighboring Eastern Cape province, state broadcaster SABC said.
The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban. Multiple dwellings collapsed in mudslides, said Robert McKenzie, a KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesman.
Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday.
Victor da Silva, a resident of the coastal town of Amanzimtoti, said his family managed to evacuate before the floods destroyed their home and cars.
“On Monday, the water was just crazy. And yesterday morning I got here, everything was fine, my garage was still here, the other part of the house was still here, and it just couldn’t stop raining,” Da Silva said. “And then an hour and a half later, everything poof (vanished) because the rain just hasn’t stopped.
Authorities in southern Tanzania ordered evacuations of residents from low-lying areas and the closure of schools and offices ahead of landfall of Tropical Cyclone Kenneth on neighboring Mozambique’s coast on Thursday.
“We’ve decided to evacuate all residents of valleys and other low-lying areas and we advise them to seek refuge at public spaces,” Mtwara regional commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa, told reporters.
Johan Fourie said he fled his home in Amanzimtoti, Kwazulu-Natal, just before part of it collapsed.
“I nearly lost my life, and my neighbor, I believe, is in hospital,” Fourie told eNCA television.
The region had been hit by heavy rains for days, but authorities did not foresee the extent of the downpour late on Monday, said Lennox Mabaso, a spokesman for the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department.
“As a result, there was flooding and some structures were undermined and collapsed on people,” Mabaso said.
Some people were swept away by the water, he added.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited affected communities in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday and was expected in the Eastern Cape in the next few days.
“This is partly what climate change is about, that it just hits when we least expect it,” he said.
Last week, 13 people were killed during an Easter service in KwaZulu-Natal when a church wall collapsed after days of heavy rains and strong winds.