Indonesia`s first honorary consulate finally opens in Palestine

Indonesia`s first honorary consulate finally opens in Palestine

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (right) during the Extraordinary Summit of the 5th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC ) on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif on Sunday (March 6, 2016). (ANTARA/Widodo S. Jusuf)

Indonesian support for the Palestinian cause has never died away ..."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia has realized its overdue plan to open an honorary consulate in Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine, thanks to the Joko Widodo (Jokowi) administrations strong resolve and the courage of Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, in particular.

Minister Retno had traveled a long way from Jakarta to Amman, Jordan, from where she was scheduled to go Ramallah, to inaugurate Maha Alkhus Hussein, who is also known as Maha Abu-Shusheh, as Indonesias first-ever lady honorary consul to Palestine.

The Israeli occupation forces, however, denied Retno and her delegation entry into the West Bank, Wafa news agency of Palestine reported.

However, the Israeli injustice failed to deter the minister from going ahead with her plan to install the new honorary consul.

Abu-Shusheh and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki decided to go to Amman for the inauguration ceremony that was finally held at the Indonesian embassy in Jordans capital.

"In recognition of the historical and unique ties between Palestine and Indonesia and this countrys supportive stance with the Palestinian people, al-Malki traveled to Amman to meet with his Indonesian counterpart," the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Israel stopped the Indonesian minister from entering Palestine as Minister Retno had refused to go to Jerusalem and meet the Israeli government officials.

There are no diplomatic ties between Israel and Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world.

Indonesia has been committed to supporting Palestine in its struggle to gain independence.

Bilateral ties with Israel would only be established when the Zionist regime ends its occupation of Palestine, so that Palestine can gain full independence.

By refusing to meet Israeli officials, Minister Retno has demonstrated consistency in Indonesias foreign policy, and most of all, her courage to say no to the colonialist regime.

In the Preamble of Indonesias Constitution (UUD 1945), it is clearly stated that colonialism must be abolished from the Earth as it is against the values of humanity and justice.

Minister Marsudi has stated that Indonesias honorary consul to Palestine could serve effectively to promote bilateral relations between Indonesia and Palestine, which is one of the first nations that recognized Indonesias independence declared in 1945.

"I hope the honorary consul in Ramallah could play an active role in fostering brotherhood between the Indonesian and Palestinian people," she remarked after inaugurating Maha, who is based in Ramalla.

The honorary consul is tasked with serving and protecting Indonesians and Indonesian corporate bodies in Palestine, she affirmed.

In addition, the honorary consul is tasked with intensifying bilateral cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, tourism, investment, labor issue, service, and culture, she pointed out.

Maha is the first Indonesian honorary consul for Palestine among 41 foreign ambassadors and consuls in Ramallah.

Currently, she is chairperson of the Palestinian Shippers Council and member of the Palestinian Trade Center. She is also president of the Board of Directors of Riwaq, which is in charge of protecting architectural heritage.

The bilateral trade balance between Indonesia and Palestine reached US$3.67 million, with a surplus of US$3.34 million enjoyed by Indonesia last year.

In 2014, bilateral trade value was recorded at US$1.02 million, with a surplus of US$808 thousand for Indonesia.

Currently, eight Indonesians live in Palestine, particularly in Gaza, as humanitarian volunteers.

Some fifty thousand Indonesian tourists, both Muslims and Christians, travel to Jerusalem annually for pilgrimage tourism.

Retno emphasized that the opening of Indonesias honorary consulate in Ramallah constituted a concrete support by Indonesia for Palestine.

"Indonesian support for the Palestinian cause has never died away, and today, we move one step forward with the inauguration of an honorary consul in Ramallah," she affirmed.

The inauguration of the honorary consul followed the Fifth Extraordinary OIC Summit on Palestine and Al Quds Al Sharif held in Jakarta on March 6 and 7 this year.

President Jokowi announced the assignment of Maha Alkhus Hussein as the countrys first honorary consul for Palestine at the extraordinary summit.

"Permit me to announce that Indonesia has named Mrs Maha Alkhus Hussein as its honorary consul for Palestine," Jokowi told the conference.

The assignment of the honorary consul was one of the concrete steps by Indonesia, which will continue to be in the front line in the struggle for Palestinian independence, he said.

The summit ended with a Resolution and Jakarta Declaration on Palestines liberation from Israeli occupation.

"Palestine is the only member of the Afro-Asian Conference of 1955 which has not yet gained its independence. The fifth extraordinary summit constitutes a joint effort to put the Palestinian issue on the world radar," the president stated.