jakarta tight lipped on mid east accord so far - Jakarta tight-lipped on Mid-East accord so far

Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, has been tight-lipped about the United States-brokered diplomatic accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The accord was announced on Thursday and would see “full normalisation of relations” between the two countries in exchange for Israel suspending annexation of the occupied West Bank territory.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah, when contacted by The Straits Times last night, said the ministry had “so far no comment” on the agreement.

Presidential spokesman Fadjroel Rachman declined to comment.

Jakarta-based international affairs observer Yon Machmudi told local news portal liputan6.com that Indonesia had no choice but to respect the UAE, but the government must speak louder and remind other countries in the Middle East to keep pushing for a two-state solution to ensure Palestine’s independence.

“The accord hurt the Palestinians… and made them further marginalised for the sake of the economic interest of the countries in the Middle East,” Mr Yon said in a text-message reply to The Straits Times last night.

Mr Zuhairi Misrawi, a noted academic from Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, urged the Indonesian government to continue to help Palestine, in line with the country’s Constitution.

“Indonesians should respect the peace deal, but our commitment to helping Palestine will never fade away,” Mr Zuhairi was quoted as saying by liputan6.com. He told The Straits Times that Indonesia should not accept the narrative offered by the US, Israel and UAE.

Indonesia was the first country to recognise Palestinian independence after the declaration of the state of Palestine in Algeria on Nov 15, 1988.

Mixed reactions came from other Asian countries, with China hailing the peace deal and Malaysia’s former prime minister criticising it.

“China is happy to see measures that are helping to ease tensions between countries in the Middle East and promoting regional peace and stability,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, adding that he hoped “concrete actions” would be taken to bring the issue of Palestine back to the negotiating table soon.

Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad warned that the landmark accord was a step backwards for peace and would divide the Muslim world into warring factions, and that “Israelis will add fuel to the fire”, the South China Morning Post reported.

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday the accord would lead to greater cooperation in investment, tourism, security, technology, energy and other areas.

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