Jakarta. Indonesia on Tuesday defended ASEAN’s overdue statement on the Israel-Palestine conflict, saying that the 10-member group needed to find a middle ground that could serve as the bloc’s collective position.
The conflict in Gaza escalated when the militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on Oct. 7. The war immediately sparked many reactions worldwide. ASEAN foreign ministers, however, only came up with a joint statement on Oct. 20, almost two weeks since the conflict erupted. Although individual ASEAN members had already issued their respective national statements.
“But among all the different national positions, we always have commonalities. We always try to find the middle ground that can be used as the ASEAN position. Because there were already individual statements of each country,” Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi told the ASEAN Media Forum in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Retno went on to say that members within a group might have differing opinions judging by her recent talks with some European Union (EU) members, including Lithuanian top diplomat Gabrielius Landsbergis.
“We would compare notes on how individual EU and ASEAN members voted in the UNGA [United Nations General Assembly]. My EU colleagues said ‘Look at the EU’s position’. There is not one common position when it comes to national voting. Some voted yes, others voted no. There were those who abstained,” Retno told reporters, alluding to the recent UNGA voting on a humanitarian truce in Gaza.
Retno added: “It reflects that it is not always easy to have a common position, but we were able to issue a statement.”
According to Retno, ASEAN members agreed to focus on humanitarian issues as a number of its nationals are still stuck in the Gaza Strip. Indonesia is struggling to evacuate 10 of its citizens out of Gaza.
ASEAN stated in its joint foreign ministerial statement that the bloc expressed its concerns about the escalating armed conflicts. The regional grouping also reaffirmed its support for the so-called “two-state solution”, which advocates the creation of two independent states to allow both Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side.
The UNGA recently approved a resolution calling for a humanitarian truce in Gaza. As many as 120 countries, including Indonesia, voted in favor. Fellow ASEAN members Malaysia and Vietnam voted yes, although the Philippines abstained. The resolution passed with 14 against and 45 abstentions. Four EU nations — Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Croatia — voted against the ceasefire.
Source: Jakarta Globe