Indonesia Concerned Over Demographic Change in Occupied Palestine

"The danger of resettlement is that they will change the demographic composition of Palestine. East Jerusalem used to have many Palestinian residents, but day by day their number is becoming smaller due to the presence of Jewish settlers," Director G
Jakarta  (Antara News) - Israel has demolished thousands of Palestinian homes and confiscated farming lands belonging to Palestinian Muslims as well as Christians in order to expand illegal resettlement areas for settlers.

These settlers are from Europe and the United States and have been invited to live in the occupied Palestinian land.

Between 1988 and 2014, Israels Civil Administration, the governing body that operates in the West Bank, issued 14,000 demolition orders, according to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Since the start of October 2015, Israeli forces have killed more than 180 Palestinians including 49 children, in the occupied Palestinian territories, according to the Defence for Children International (DCI)-Palestine, which was quoted by QudsNet on February 16.

Indonesia has expressed its concerns that illegal resettlement activities by Israel that have reached East Jerusalem would affect the demographic composition of the region and later make the Palestinian people lose their rights in the area.

"The danger of resettlement is that they will change the demographic composition of Palestine. East Jerusalem used to have many Palestinian residents, but day by day their number is becoming smaller due to the presence of Jewish settlers," Director General of Multilateral Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hasan Kleib said recently.

If a referendum is held someday, Palestine might lose because East Jerusalem is full of Jewish settlers as five million Palestinians live outside it, he said.

In view of this, Indonesia would call for efforts to return the Palestinian refugees to their region, Hasan Kleib said.

The call will be voiced during the upcoming extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to be hosted by Indonesia in on March 6 and 7 this year.

The summit will also discuss Palestine's independence and the status of "Al Quds Al Sharif" (Holy City of Jerusalem), and water circulation in the West Bank of the Jordan River.

All heads of states and governments of the 56 OIC member countries are expected to attend the summit, in addition to observer states, such as Thailand, Bosnia Herzegovina, Russia and the Republic of Central Africa.

     Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union (the quartet), will also be invited, as parties participating in the peaceful talks between Israel and Palestine.

"This is the idea of the Palestinian foreign minister, who wishes to invite the quartet that has played a major role in the Israeli-Palestine peace process," he said, adding that "The peace process that has been carried out by the quartet has been seen as declining." 

Hasan Kleib said it was Palestines President Mahmoud Abbas who in late 2015 had specially requested that the OIC hold an extraordinary meeting due to the deteriorating situation in Jerusalem.

"The situation in Jerusalem, especially at the Al Aqsa Mosque, is worrisome," he said.

"There are two issues: access of Muslims to the Al Aqsa mosque, which is increasingly being restricted by the Israeli authorities and the security of those entering the mosque," he said.

The summit would reflect Indonesias support to the independence of Palestine and Israel-Palestine peaceful efforts in realizing the two-state solution, the senior diplomat said.

In view of that the summit is expected to be able to produce two statements on Jerusalem and Palestine.

"The results of the summit will be two-fold. The first will be a communiqu - containing the fundamental position of OIC member countries towards Palestine and the second might be called the "Jakarta Declaration," which will include steps to be taken by the OIC to help Palestine," Hasan said.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki in a bilateral meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, held on the sidelines of the OIC Ministerial Conference in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, on January 21, expressed his appreciation to Indonesia for its support to the Palestinian cause.

He referred to the opening of the Honorary Consul of Indonesia in Ramallah which will be inaugurated soon and will be a strong political support for the Palestinians.

In the meantime, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) called to maintain security and peace in the Middle East while addressing the United States and ASEAN leaders during a working dinner of the US-ASEAN Summit held in Sunnylands, California, the US, on February. 15.

Indonesia has adopted a consistent approach in supporting Palestine to gain independence, Jokowi reiterated.

He invited the US government to attend the OICs extraordinary summit as an observer.

"I encourage the ASEAN and the United States to continue to contribute to finding a solution to the Palestinian issues," Jokowi stated in the event hosted by US President Barack Obama. ***2***
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