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Indonesia to pressure Israel to implement UN resolution

Indonesia will make good use of a watershed moment in international politics to push forward the resumption of peace talks between Israel and Palestine by demanding the implementation of a recently approved United Nations Security Council resolution on illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

“We will continue to refer [to the UN resolution] and demand its immediate implementation, […] because these illegal settlements have long been the figurative pebble in the shoe in efforts to revive the Middle Eastern peace process [between Palestine and Israel],” said Hasan Kleib, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s director-general for multilateral affairs, on Monday.

The US broke with past practice by allowing on Friday the UN Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation” of international law, putting strain on a longstanding alliance with Israel on the international stage.

Although the US opposes the settlements, it has traditionally used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to block resolutions condemning Israel, saying that disputes between Israel and the Palestinians must be resolved through negotiations.

Instead, the sitting US delegation abstained during last week’s vote for adoption of the resolution during a UN Security Council chamber meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, US.

Indonesia, a champion of Palestinian self-determination, was not involved in the drafting of the UN resolution, as it was tabled behind closed doors by Security Council member Egypt before it was withdrawn and subsequently picked up again for co-sponsorship, Hasan told The Jakarta Post.

New Zealand joined Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela in bringing the resolution before the council despite a huge diplomatic effort by Israel to stymie the move.

Fourteen member countries supported the resolution while the US abstained.

Indonesia welcomed the UN Security Council’s resolution and lauded the US for allowing to be approved without a veto, in a statement released on Saturday.

The ministry said the resolution showed the success and leadership of the UN Security Council in resolving conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The UN resolution stated that the settlement on Palestinian territory had no legal basis and was a violation of international laws.

Indonesia supported the resolution, calling on the two countries along with international communities to start negation again.

The timing of the approved resolution could not come at a better time, as Hasan said Indonesia was waiting for final confirmation to participate in the much-awaited International Peace Conference that France suggested earlier this year.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi previously called on France to make good on its plan to promote peace in Palestine and Israel through the peace conference, an issue that was raised during a senior officials meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.

She urged Paris to finish drafting the terms of reference for the conference so that Indonesia could sooner ascertain its contribution to the initiative.

Indonesia has provided substantial aid to Palestine through the Asia-Africa cooperation framework and through the Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD).

France has not announced a definitive date for the event despite previous statements placing the event “sometime during the second half of this year”.

Meanwhile, Israel’s prime minister lashed out at US President Barack Obama on Saturday, accusing him of a “shameful ambush” at the UN over West Bank settlements and saying he was looking forward to working with his “friend” presidentelect Donald Trump.

Welcomed by the Palestinians, the resolution, while mostly symbolic, could hinder Israel’s negotiating position in future peace talks.

Trump also condemned the UN vote Saturday, taking to Twitter to say it “will make it much harder to negotiate peace.” But, he added, “we will get it done anyway.”

A year ago, Trump told The Associated Press that he wanted to be “very neutral” on Israel-Palestinian issues, but his comments became much more pro-Israel as the race progressed and he took a sharp tone against the Palestinians.

Netanyahu said the US abstention was “in complete contrast” to US commitments — including one that he said Obama made in 2011 — not to impose conditions for a final agreement on Israel at the Security Council.

The White House declined to comment on Netanyahu’s criticism.

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