Indonesia walks out of heated Gaza debate at UN

A video that circulated showed dozens of foreign diplomats leaving the debate hall at the UN headquarters at the start of a speech by Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations Gilad Erdan in which he asserted his country’s will to “defend” its future.

Yvette Tanamal

Yvette Tanamal

The Jakarta Post


Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi delivers her annual speech detailing the achievements and upcoming targets of Indonesian diplomacy at the Merdeka Building in Bandung, West Java, on Jan. 8, 2024. PHOTO: ANTARA/ THE JAKARATA POST

January 26, 2024

JAKARTA – Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi led the Indonesian delegation in a walkout alongside dozens of other diplomats during an address by Israel at a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Tuesday, amid international condemnation of Tel Aviv’s ongoing military onslaught in the Gaza Strip.

A video that circulated on Wednesday showed Indonesia’s top diplomat leaving the debate hall at the UN headquarters in New York with dozens of other foreign diplomats at the start of a speech by Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations Gilad Erdan in which he asserted his country’s will to “defend” its future.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the walkout on Thursday and told reporters that Erdan, who was the second representative to speak during the six-hour debate, later staged a similar walkout during Retno’s speech.

“The Israeli permanent representative was not present in the room when Indonesia and several other OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] countries were delivering their speeches,” said ministry spokesperson Lalu Muhammad Iqbal. “Conversely, Indonesia and several OIC representatives were not present when he was delivering his statement.”

The OIC, a group of 57 countries representing the Muslim world, strongly supports the Palestinian cause and endorsed a joint statement last year condemning Israel’s siege of Gaza and calling on top diplomats to exert “diplomatic, political and legal pressure” on Tel Aviv.

Indonesia has been participating in diplomatic efforts to promote a permanent cease-fire in the conflict and wider access for humanitarian assistance, but this was the first time the country’s representatives staged a walkout on the issue.

Indonesia typically promotes dialogue above all else and walkouts are a rarity for the country’s delegations at international forums.

Jakarta has no official diplomatic relationship with Tel Aviv.

News of the walkout was met with fervent support by Indonesian social media users.

Other reports said it was mostly diplomats from Arab nations that staged the walkout.

Tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas war have increased in recent weeks, with other countries such as Iran, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon getting involved and exchanging fire with opposing forces.

The latest developments have stoked fears that conflict will spread throughout the Middle East, potentially destabilizing the region further.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement last week that Israel would not allow Palestinian sovereignty has also fueled the fire, sparking calls for a renewed commitment to a two-state solution, including from some of Tel Aviv’s most important allies, such as the United States.

“War and misery in Gaza are fueling turmoil far beyond,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the debate, as quoted in an official transcript. “Last week’s clear and repeated rejection of the two-state solution at the highest levels of the Israeli government is unacceptable [and] must be firmly rejected.”

In her own speech, Retno warned that a “full-blown war” in the Middle East was a “real and present danger” and pledged that Jakarta would pursue all possible avenues to promote the Palestinian cause and keep Israel accountable.

Retno is also scheduled to deliver a statement against Israel’s actions in the occupied territories at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in mid-February, where the top court will issue an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Tel Aviv’s occupation of the Palestinian enclaves.

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