JAKARTA, Indonesia

A group of Malaysian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has urged Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam to remain consistent with their stance on Palestinian issues. 

The call was made by the Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations of Malaysia (MAPIM), the World Mosque for Defending Al-Aqsa (MANAR), the Secretariat of the Association of Asian Regional Scholars (SHURA) and the Palestinian Secretariat of Malaysia in a joint statement released Monday.

“We insist that the governments of the three Islamic countries in the region must not compromise in any way with the Israeli Zionist regime,” they said.

“Israel’s statement that it wants to forge ties with Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei is a sign that the illegal state is drawing up a special focus agenda for the three Islamic countries in the region.”

They stressed that the position of no formal or informal affiliation of the three countries with Israel should be maintained.

“There are no negotiations that can be done with Israel. Israel needs to be disbanded, Palestinian land needs to be liberated. This is the only solution,” they added.

The statement did not rule out the possibility that embassies in other member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) such as Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines may be used by Israel to conduct espionage operations in the region.

But people will always be vigilant to warn governments against such compromising.

“Israel’s efforts to forge ties with governments of Islamic countries will always be monitored. We strongly reject any attempt to normalize with the Zionist regime,” it said.

In a recent interview with the Jerusalem Post, the Ambassador of Israel to Singapore, Sagi Karni, revealed that Israel is ready to establish relations with three Muslim countries in Southeast Asia, although these countries condemned Israel’s offensive strikes on the Gaza Strip last month which killed more than 250 Palestinians.

“We are willing to talk. We are willing to meet, and the door is open as far as we are concerned. I don’t think it’s so hard to find us,” said Karni.

Israeli lobby to Indonesia

In 1993, former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited the Jakarta residence of Soeharto, the second president of Indonesia, who like many Indonesians used only one name.

In his statement, Rabin told reporters that he sought support from Soeharto, then chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

In addition, in 2017, seven Muslim delegations from Indonesia met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at his official residence, Beit HaNassi, in Jerusalem.

Their visit was initiated by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

In 2018, Yahya Cholil Staquf from Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, also met with then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Yahya, who was also a member of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s Advisory Council, visited Israel for four days from June 10-14.

He emphasized that his visit to Israel was not for meeting with Netanyahu but to attend a global forum organized by the American Jewish Committee as a keynote speaker.

President Widodo also clarified that Yahya’s trip was not part of the Indonesian government’s diplomacy.

*Writing by Maria Elisa Hospita from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language services

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