Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, right, meets with Tunisian Foreign Minister Kheimaies Jhinaoui, left, during the Fifth Extraordinary Summit on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif at the Jakarta Convention Center in Senayan on Monday (07/03). Kalla has called on the Palestinian Hamas and Fatah groups to unite and to continue talks with Israel in order to secure the territory’s independence (Antara Photo/Wisnu Widiantoro)

VP Kalla Urges Palestinian Groups to Reconcile, Continue Talks With Israel

BY :EDO KARENSA

MARCH 07, 2016

Jakarta. Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla has called on the Palestinian Hamas and Fatah groups to unite and to continue talks with Israel in order to secure the territory's independence.

Speaking during the Fifth Extraordinary Summit on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif in Jakarta on Monday (07/03), Kalla urged Hamas and Fatah to reconcile, describing it as an important step towards gaining independence.

The two-day summit, which kicked off on Sunday, is organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The militant group Hamas, and the Fatah movement of Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, have had little success in reconciliation in the latest 10 years.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007, when it seized power after a brief civil war with the rival Fatah movement. Hamas's armed wing is one of several militant groups that operate in the territory, which is subject to a blockade by both Israel and Egypt.

"Palestine must unite, between Hamas and Fatah. That's the first thing [to do], and of course the negotiations with Israel should be continued with the existing roadmap," Kalla told reporters at the Jakarta Convention Centre in Senayan on Monday.

Kalla said it was possible for Indonesia to act as a mediator between the two Palestinian groups but that the Middle Eastern countries should also take concrete actions at the same time.

"Indonesia has a strategic role since we are not involved in those conflicts. But this cannot be separated from the roles of Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, Iran and Saudi Arabia, because they also have political and economic interests there," Kalla said.

The Palestine-Israeli peace negotiation roadmap, drawn up by the so-called Quartet – the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, was first introduced in 2003 but has never been implemented properly.

Another initiative, proposed by US President Barack Obama in 2010, also failed after Israeli and Palestinian leaders met only once more.

Bilateral Meetings

Kalla also held bilateral meetings with Tunisian Foreign Minister Kheimaies Jhinaoui, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtumulus and Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Echin Afandiyev.

"We discussed bilateral relations with those countries, and also we talked about the situation in the Middle East and Islamic countries. We are also united to push Palestine to resolve this problem," Kalla said.

The two-day OIC summit is expected to pass a resolution reaffirming support for an independent Palestine. The summit is also attended by representatives from the "Quartet," as well as four observer countries.

Calls for Indonesia to host the extraordinary summit mounted during an OIC ministerial meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in January.

The OIC and Palestine in December specifically requested Indonesia's participation, in light of the fact that support for Palestinian independence has long been a key part of the Southeast Asian nation's foreign policy.

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