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Shangri-La Dialogue: Prabowo calls for both sides’ ‘right to exist’ in Israel-Gaza war

Shangri-La Dialogue: Prabowo calls for both sides’ ‘right to exist’ in Israel-Gaza war
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Shangri-La Dialogue: Indonesia’s Prabowo calls for Palestinian state, end to war, remains firm on non-alignment in US-China rivalry

Indonesian president-elect Prabowo Subianto on Saturday called on the international community to provide a “just solution” to the Israel-Gaza war under which both sides have a “right to exist” and there would be a Palestinian state.

“The only real solution to lasting peace and security for both Israel and Palestine is a two-state solution,” he said in Singapore at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum.

“Why this is important for us? Because Indonesia is part of the Islamic world. Although physically, we are not of the region, but what happens in the Middle East, what happens in Gaza affects, concerns … the Indonesian people,” he said.

The former general added that Indonesia would “do whatever we can to provide humanitarian assistance” and contribute to peacekeeping efforts.

“Indonesia also is very willing to evacuate and treat wounded Palestinian civilians and those needing hospital care in Indonesian hospitals.”

Indonesia’s president-elect Prabowo speaks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, and commended US President Joe Biden’s three-phase proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza. Photo: AP

Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population and has consistently expressed support for Palestine’s independence within the framework of a two-state solution.

Prabowo, 72, said the resolution should consider both Israel’s right to exist and the rights of the Palestinians “to have their own homeland, their own state, living in peace”.

“We are also cognisant of the fact that the resolution of this crisis must consist of mutual respect for the rights and the concerns of all parties. There cannot be a single narrative that is legitimate as it’s often been repeated,” he said.

Prabowo also commended US President Joe Biden’s three-phase proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza: “Although we have to further study the details of this proposal put forward and announced by President Biden, we do view this proposal as an important right step in the direction that we have to go.”

He reiterated Jakarta’s commitment to the “support of comprehensive and permanent ceasefire” in the Middle East, which would be a move towards a “real peace between Israel and Palestine, and thus, real peace in the region”.

The resolution of this crisis must consist of mutual respect for the rights and the concerns of all parties.

Indonesia’s president-elect Prabowo Subianto

Following his remarks on peacekeeping efforts, he added: “President Joko Widodo has instructed me to announce that we are ready to evacuate, receive and treat with medical care, up to 1,000 patients in the immediate future.”

Prabowo won Indonesia’s February general election and is set to take over the reins in October.

Asked about his views on Jakarta’s response if forced to pick sides amid the intensifying US-China rivalry, Prabowo reiterated the country’s long-standing policy of non-alignment.

“We must maintain the policy of non-alignment, of maintaining the best relations with all nations of the world,” he said.

“So regarding the issues between China and the United States, we will always promote all efforts to achieve coexistence, to achieve collaboration, to achieve compromise.”

Analysts had previously said Prabowo’s visits to China and Japan shortly after he had been confirmed as president was a “major diplomatic coup” and signalled his future foreign policy direction as one that sought to maintain balanced relations with all.

Prabowo met Chinese President Xi Jinping in April on the latter’s invitation, at a time when Beijing and Washington are seeking to expand their influence in the region, amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.

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Indonesia’s new leader Prabowo Subianto meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing

Indonesia’s new leader Prabowo Subianto meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing

Indonesia is not a claimant in the South China Sea territorial dispute, but Beijing and Jakarta have their own dispute over its exclusive economic zone in the North Natuna Islands.

This has led to skirmishes in the disputed waters a number of times in recent years, such as in December 2022 when China sent Coast Guard 5901, the world’s largest coastguard vessel, to patrol the North Natuna Sea.

During a meeting with Chinese Defence Minister Dong Jun in April, Prabowo said Indonesia was looking to deepen defence cooperation with Beijing and promote the development of the relations between the armed forces of both sides.

Beijing has built a strong relationship with Jakarta under Prabowo’s predecessor Widodo.

Last year, China was Indonesia’s largest trading partner and second-largest foreign investor.

During his speech, Prabowo also said Jakarta’s non-alignment policy was derived from the so-called “Asian way” of dealing with conflicts.

“Real security comes through very good relations between our immediate neighbours. This is part of our Asian culture. We must be close, friendly with our immediate neighbours,” he said, noting that Indonesia has had conflicts with Singapore and Malaysia in the past.

“But now, we are the best of friends. We resolved our differences without interference from any external power,” he said.

“We are like brothers. Now we are talking of making perhaps a land bridge between Singapore and Batam, a land bridge between Malaysia and Indonesia.”

During an interview with news channel Al Jazeera last month, Prabowo had struck a similar tone and said states in the region had solved issues without foreign interference and through dialogue, in response to a question about what the “Asian Way” meant to him.

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