Jakarta Cancels Plan to Seek Replacement of Palestinian Envoy
Indonesia on Monday said it has decided not to proceed with its plan to ask Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to replace his ambassador for allegedly failing to clarify Jakarta's policies on the Palestinian cause.
Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab last week accused Palestinian Ambassador to Jakarta, Ribhi Awad, of failing to brief a visiting Palestinian delegation about Indonesia's stance regarding the Palestinian cause.
But Shihab said Awad has since clarified his position.
"He has given a correction and clarification, that a misunderstanding has occurred and that Palestine has never felt that Indonesia has left their people," Shihab told journalists after he met with Awad at his office.
The delegation, who were to attend an international conference of legislators, has since criticized Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid for remaining neutral and not putting his feet down on the current violence by Israel in the West Bank and in the Gaza strip over past weeks.
"With this correction, I concluded that I don't have to pursue the next (diplomatic) step which is to write a letter (to Arafat asking for Awad's replacement)," the minister said.
At least 110 people, nearly all of them Palestinians or Israeli Arabs, have been killed in almost three weeks of battles between Palestinians and Israeli troops.
Salem Al Za'noon who lead the Palestinian delegation to the 104th Inter-Parliamentary Union conference last week, also deplored Wahid's membership in the Shimon Peres Foundation which he claimed was involved in raising funds from Jews in diaspora.
Awad, who accompanied Shihab during the press conference, said that Shihab's statement had stemmed from "misinterpretation and misunderstanding."
"I'm sure that with the clarifications I have made in the last three days, and also clarification made by our (parliament) speaker, there was a one hundred percent misinterpretation and misunderstanding," Awad said.
He added that he had no problem being summoned by Shihab because it was the minister's "legitimate authority to summon any ambassador, not only the Palestinian, for clarification and even for warning."
Indonesia, the world's most Muslim-populated country, has no diplomatic relations with Israel and plans by Wahid to open trade links with the Jewish state late last year drew widespread protests by Muslims – JAKARTA (AFP)
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