Jakarta. Indonesian religious organizations called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in a joint declaration issued on Friday (03/11), in which they urged the international community to take "concrete steps" to end human rights violations against Palestinians, calling it a "humanitarian" issue as opposed to a religious one.
The declaration was signed by representatives of organizations of six officially recognized religions in Indonesia, including Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI).
"We […] condemn the Israeli occupation in Palestinian territories and urge a stop to all forms of violations in the occupied territories," the statement said.
Furthermore, the declaration urged the Indonesian government to maintain its obligations to international law and work with other countries to stop the ongoing occupation.
This year marks the 50th year of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which includes East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
"Israel has destroyed the homes of Palestinians and built an apartheid wall that separates people and families. The Israelis jailed our children and kill civilians for no reason [...] and use forbidden weapons," Taher Ibrahim Abdullah Ahmad, the Palestinian Embassy’s charge d’affaires, said at the signing of the declaration.
Palestinian children are reportedly deprived from receiving education because many schools have been destroyed by Israeli forces. According to Ahmad, school attendance has seen a sharp decrease to 33 percent from a previous 95 percent.
Ahmad also urged other countries "to support a two-state solution."
Religious leaders urged the international community must take "concrete steps" to put a stop to the development of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.
"If there are no concrete steps from the international community […] then the human rights violations against Palestinians, which has deteriorated, will only get worse," the statement said.
Indonesia has been a staunch supporter of Palestinian independence. The country established diplomatic relations with Palestine in 1988.
Indonesian diplomats have continued to put forward the issue of Palestine in bilateral and multilateral settings. In 2016, Indonesia opened its consulate-general in Ramallah, Palestine’s de-facto capital.
Last week, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi reaffirmed Indonesia’s support for Palestine, saying that "supporting Palestine has always been at the heart of Indonesia’s foreign policy."
Lina Fattom, an Amnesty International researcher for Israel and Palestine, highlighted that this conflict "is not one of religion, but it is one based on the need for control of resources that uses religion and culture as a way to divide."
Representatives of the religious organizations, who were gathered at the office of the Nahdlatul Ulama executive board (PBNU) in Jakarta, also echoed similar sentiments.
"What’s happening in Palestine and Israel is not a religious conflict. This is a humanitarian issue […] In its occupation, Israel has used forbidden weapons and deprived Palestinians of their rights," Fellowship of Indonesian Churches (PGI) representative Penrad Siagian, said.