October 26, 2022
JAKARTA – Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, on his first diplomatic visit to Indonesia on Monday, called for Jakarta to reaffirm its commitment to Palestine at the upcoming Group of 20 Summit, while President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo underlined his commitment to “support Palestine’s struggle amid immense challenges”.
Two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed between the two leaders at the Bogor Palace in West Java – one focusing on Indonesia’s continued humanitarian assistance while the other was on providing human-capacity building assistance for the establishment of Palestine’s independent drug and food authority.
Head of Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency (BPOM) Penny Lukito was among the several senior officials who were present during the meeting.
Supporting Palestine remains one of Indonesia’s most important foreign policies, Jokowi stated. On this front, the President explained the three facets of Indonesia’s support; diplomacy, trade and humanitarian assistance.
“Here I am emphasizing the importance of unity within the Palestinian state. […] Indonesia will continue to push forward the reconciliation process between all Palestinian factions. I have conveyed Indonesia’s support for Palestine’s full membership at the United Nations [as well],” Jokowi asserted in his remarks.
“I am reaffirming Indonesia’s commitment to its continuous support of the Palestinian independence.”
For the past 10 years, Palestine has only been considered as an observer state at the United Nations, despite past experiences in chairing the Group of 77 and China developing countries coalition, prompting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make his most recent membership appeal in late September.
Noting that the campaigns for the upcoming Israeli election had also increased violence in Palestine, Shtayyeh suggested that Indonesia declare its partiality at the Bali Summit less than 30 days away.
“We have discussed with [Jokowi] regarding the holding of the G20 Summit. We hope that Indonesia can convey its message of support to Palestine at the forum,” he said.
“We [also] expressed our highest form of gratitude to [Jokowi] for Indonesia’s unending and limitless support through various programs and political efforts for the independence […] of Palestine.”
The Prime Minister also met with Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, State Secretary Pratikno and Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan at the Bogor Palace. As another form of Indonesia’s continued support, Jokowi said that he was seeking to further advance the trade relationship between the two nations.
Trade between Indonesia and Palestine from January through July of this year increased by 21.3 percent compared with the same period last year, Jokowi said.
“Indonesia has provided a unilateral facility in the form of duty exemptions for the import of Palestinian dates and olives. This [exemption] will be applied to other products in the future,” he announced.
Capacity-building assistance and humanitarian aid will also continue to be given to the people of Palestine, Jokowi added, noting that such help “does not only come from the government but also from the citizens of Indonesia”. In the past few years, Indonesia has trained at least 2,000 Palestinians to support their capacity-building efforts in various sectors, including through monetary support.
Indonesia is a loyal supporter of Palestinian statehood, based on a constitutional mandate to erase colonial practice and a collective empathy for the latter state among the world’s largest population of Muslims.
Since assuming the presidency in 2014, supporting Palestinian independence has remained a cornerstone policy for the Jokowi administration. And with two years left of his time in office, Jokowi’s efforts to aid Palestine appear to continue unabated.
“In the future, we will continue our capacity-building assistance for [other sectors], including small and medium enterprises, e-commerce and disaster relief,” said Jokowi.
“Indonesia and Palestine are very close friends. Palestine was one of the first countries to recognize [our] independence,” he added.