RI expected to raise Palestinian UN membership issue in Bali

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Palestine expects Indonesia to raise the issue of its membership in the United Nations at the 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali on November 18-19 this year, the Middle Eastern country`s representative here said.

Speaking at a discussion forum with the Indonesia-Palestine Friendship Initiative (IPFI) here on Thursday, Palestine Ambassador to Indonesia Fariz Mehdawi said Indonesia which was playing a key role in regional and international fora was expected "to be able to exert its influence on, and convince other ASEAN member countries to support us."

Indonesia had already shown a consistent commitment to supporting Palestine at many international conferences in its efforts to help bring peace and freedom to Palestine.

"We realize that Indonesia has made a great contribution to Palestine by considering the creation of peace in our country the most crucial priority. We really appreciate this," he said.

Responding to the ambassador`s remarks, Din Syamsuddin of Muhammadiyah, the second largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, said Indonesia would continue giving its support to Palestine.

"We will stand in the vanguard to help make peace prevail in Palestine, because what is currently happening in Palestine is not only a matter involving a certain religion but a humanitarian crisis," Din said.

Mehdawi also expressed disappointment over the United States` decision to stop funding the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after the agency had admitted Palestine as a full member.

"I think, all UNESCO member countries are not happy with the US decision to stop its funding assistance to the UN agency," he said.

The US had so far always claimed to be the most democratic nation in the world but its actions showed something different. The US stance on Palestine`s UNESCO membership ran counter to the spirit of democratization, he said.

"To be a UNESCO member, our bid was subjected to a vote in a democratic manner. But why is the US still opposed to Palestinian membership in UNESCO," Mehdawi said.

It was reported earlier, the US canceled its plan to contribute US$60 million to UNESCO after the latter approved Palestine`s application for membership.