President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo meeting with Palestine Olympic Committee chairman Jibril Mahmoud Muhammad Rajoub in Jakarta on Tuesday (21/08). (Photo courtesy of the State Secretariat)

Asian Games Can Promote Palestinian Unity: Indonesian Foreign Minister


AUGUST 22, 2018

Jakarta. The 2018 Asian Games serve as a platform for unity among members of the Palestinian community, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday (21/08), as the world's largest Muslim-majority nation continues to support their struggle for statehood.

"The Palestinian contingent is not only comprised of Fatah, but also Hamas. It shows us how sports can be a force of unity amid differences. It's a great momentum that we could certainly use to unite Palestine," Retno said in a statement issued by the State Secretariat.

Fatah and Hamas are the two most dominant political factions in Palestine, each adhering to a different ideology, though both work toward the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

During a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in Jakarta on Tuesday, Palestine Olympic Committee chairman Jibril Mahmoud Muhammad Rajoub expressed his appreciation of Indonesia's support for the Palestinian team during this year's Asian Games.

The Palestinian contingent comprises more than 80 athletes competing in 14 sports disciplines.

There were loud cheers from the crowd for the Palestinian team during the opening ceremony in Jakarta on Saturday.

Indonesia is one of the most vocal supporters of Palestinian independence and has expressed a commitment to prioritize the issue during its term as nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council, which begin in 2019.

However, considering fair competition in sports, Indonesia defeated Palestine 21-11, 21-13 in the qualifying round of the men's volleyball at Jakabaring Sport City in Palembang, South Sumatra, on Tuesday afternoon.

As host of the 18th Asian Games, Indonesia embraces the value of unity in diversity to enrich the international multisport event, which sees participation by thousands of athletes and officials from across Asia.

Saturday's opening ceremony also saw the South Korean and North Korean contingents marching together under a unification flag, which is yet another milestone in the reconciliation process to end decades of conflict on the Korean Peninsula.