"However, the work is not finished yet, of course."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia, a staunch supporter of Palestine`s struggle for independence, has continued to demonstrate its commitment to Palestine`s efforts to develop as a nation state by providing capacity-building programs for Palestinian people and mobilizing its political supports at various international forums.

"The cause of our brothers and sisters in Palestine is the cause of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). It is also Indonesia`s cause. We must, therefore, take concrete and vigorous steps to ensure that Palestine`s bid for enhanced status in the United Nations succeeds this year. We must also see to it that the establishment of a Palestine state in 2013, as envisioned by Palestinian leaders, is realized," Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said at the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which was held in Tehran, Iran, in August this year.

Two months later, on November 29, 2012, Palestine was implicitly recognised by the UN as a sovereign state, after the voting led to the upgrade of the Palestine`s observer status at the UN to "non-member state", which was previously "entity".

The diplomatic victory for Palestine finally came this year, after a similar UN membership bid failed in 2011. The move was strongly opposed by Israel and the US.

"Indonesia hailed the UN general assembly`s recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state status, and the country will continue to support Palestine`s bid for UN full membership," Marty said in New York on November 30.

"Indonesia, a co-sponsor of Palestine`s UN membership bid resolution at the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, believes that Palestine`s full membership is consistent with the two-state solution vision," he continued.

"Alhamdulillah (Thank God), our efforts have yielded positive results and helped Palestine become an observer state at the UN. However, the work is not finished yet, of course," Marty pointed out, adding Indonesia would continue its joint efforts with other countries to support Palestine`s UN full membership bid.

Palestine Ambassador to Indonesia Fariz Mehdawi said in Jakarta on December 5 that the upgraded status of Palestine as a UN non-member observer country is also a victory for Indonesia because of its long-standing support for Palestinian independence.

"I have to say the Palestinians will never forget Indonesia. In 1955, Indonesia was the only country that recognized Palestine as a state at the Asian African Conference. Now, the support has spread all over the world, with 138 countries supporting the Palestinian cause," he said at his embassy.

"During our difficult times, when Israel was created and Palestine disappeared from the world`s political map, Indonesia stood beside us as a country that had just gained independence. At that time, (Indonesia`s first president) Sukarno said it was the right of all nations around the world to enjoy independence," he stated.

Over the past few years, Indonesia has organized capacity-building programs to help Palestinians get prepared to run a sovereign state.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged that Indonesia would train 1,000 Palestinians, including police officers, women and civil servants.

The capacity-building programs included training courses titled Fire Rescue, Project Cycles, Gender Mainstreaming for Officers of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Coal and Mineral Resources Management.

In September, Indonesia organized at least two programs, including Training on Records and Archives Management, at the Indonesian Archives centre (ANRI), and a capacity-building program on Textile for Empowering Palestine's Human Resources at the Industry Ministry.

In the meantime, some Indonesian people, organised under Indonesian NGO Medical Emergency Rescue-Committee (MER-C), collected money to build a hospital in Bayt Lahiya, North Gaza, a crowded area which has often suffered Israeli air attacks.

MER-C chief president Sarbini Abdul Murad told the Indonesian press recently that his NGO would furnish the nearly completed building before installing the German-made medical equipment.

"We plan to finish the Indonesian-funded hospital`s construction by the end of 2013 or in early 2014," said Faried Thalib, the chairman of the hospital`s construction team, at a press conference in Jakarta on November 19.

The two-storey hospital, designed by Indonesian architects, will have 100 beds and will be staffed primarily by Palestinians, with a few Indonesian volunteers. It will also have five operation rooms with 10 beds.

"The main objective of the establishment of the hospital is to treat and rehabilitate trauma patients, as well as provide first aid and care for those living in the Gaza strip," he said.

The hospital, whose construction began last year on the 9,000 square-metres of land donated by the Palestinian Authority, is situated only 3 kilometres away from the Israeli border.

On November 14, an Israeli rocket landed approximately 100 metres away from the hospital, killing a Hamas leader, his bodyguard and a family member.

A total of 28 Indonesian nationals who were involved in the construction of the hospital, which will be named "Indonesia Hospital", endured Israeli air strikes, rockets, bombings, and embargoes while trying to complete their noble humanitarian mission.

During the Israeli aggression in Gaza last month, various Muslim and student organizations held rallies in a number of cities to protest the Zionist air strikes that killed many Palestinian children and women.

The Indonesian protestors urged the government and the United Nations to take concrete steps to stop the Israeli air strikes on Gaza and help the Gaza people.

After a ceasefire in the region, the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I sent a delegation to Gaza to provide moral, material and political support to Palestinians.

The Indonesian delegation included a number of NGO activists who provided assistance and aid in the form of food, medicine and money to the Palestinian people.

The lawmakers also conveyed two messages to Palestinian leaders, namely Indonesia`s support for Palestine`s bid to become a full member of the United Nations and the urgent need for Fatah and Hamas to unite in order to strengthen Palestine`s struggle against Israel diplomatically as well as in the battlefield.

Earlier this year, President Yudhoyono sent Indonesian Ambassador to US Dino Patty Djalal to Amman, Jordan, to deliver a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In his letter, Yudhoyono told Abbas that Indonesia would increase its political, economic and social ties with the Palestinian people and appoint an honorary consul to Palestine, who will be based in Ramallah.

At the 45-minute meeting in February, President Abbas briefed Dino on the latest developments in the Palestinian-Israel negotiations, the general aspects of Palestinian economy and the ongoing reconciliation process between Fatah and Hamas.

The plan to open a representative office in Ramallah, however, was postponed. Marty announced in August that the plan to open the office would be put on hold as Indonesia did not have diplomatic relations with Israel, which is in occupation of the Palestinian territory.

"Since Indonesia has yet to recognize Israel, we must hold the [plans] because we still don`t want to open diplomatic ties with the occupying state. We will appoint an honorary consul there instead to represent us in Palestine. The government of Palestine understands the situation," Marty told the media.

The announcement was made a few days after Israel prevented delegates of an extraordinary summit on Palestine from entering Ramallah. The summit was supposed to be held in Ramallah on August 5 and Marty would have represented Indonesia in the summit.

But Israel did not allow Marty and other NAM delegates, including the Foreign ministers from Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cuba and Algeria, who had already arrived in Jordan, to attend the summit in Ramallah.

Indonesia and 12 members of NAM's special committee for the support of Palestine's freedom condemned Israel for not providing access to the participants of the extraordinary summit in Ramallah.

"Israel`s argument that some participating countries have no diplomatic ties, so it would not allow the participants to enter Ramallah is weak, because it is known that the conference was going to be held in Palestine, not in Israel," said the Indonesian foreign minister in a statement.

Marty recently stated that Indonesia would not recognize Israel`s sovereignty until Palestine gained independence and UN full membership status.

"We will talk about the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel only after there is an independent Palestinian state," he added.

Reporter: by Fardah
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2012