By Giftson Ramos Daniel
The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem has witnessed clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians. The conflict was triggered by a decision by Israeli security forces to shut down access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This action apparently provoked a reaction from Palestinian Muslims who would carry out tarawih and i’tikafprayers in the last ten nights of Ramadan.
Another triggering event was the forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. Palestinians were greatly outraged by this act of forcible eviction by the Israeli authorities.
The combination of these events was a sign that the conflict between Israel and Palestine had no end in sight. All forms of peace efforts had come to a dead end. The Abraham Accords that were initiated during the administration of former US President Donald Trump turned out to be fruitless. Instead of reconciling the two parties, it created new problems.
The agreement involving Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco has come under fire. Not only from the Palestinian government but also from another dominant power in the Middle East region, namely Iran.
Iran criticized the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE because it would eradicate hopes for Palestine to become a sovereign state. Despite the criticism, the agreement to normalize relations continued and subsequently included Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.
Initially the dominant Arab power in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, did not clearly state how to normalize relations with Israel. However, it has allowed Israeli aircraft to cross its territory on their way to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is an indication that a relationship exists between the two sides but is not publicly acknowledged.
The situation has become muddled because so far Saudi Arabia has consistently supported Palestine’s aspiration for sovereign statehood. Meanwhile, for Israel, the normalization of relations with several Arab countries is considered a victory.
This is because the peace agreement with Arab countries does nothing to make Israel stop its annexation of the West Bank. This can be seen from the desire of Israeli Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu to “delay” the annexation of Palestine. In fact, he stated that he would never change his plans to continue to maintain the sovereignty of his country over the contested territory.
This development ultimately affects the security situation in the Middle East region. The Abraham Accords sponsored by the Trump administration did not involve Palestine and that is the problem.
In fact, only Israel and several Arab governments were involved at the negotiating table and as a result, the agreement aimed at creating peace does not go well. As happened recently, the Israeli and Palestinian conflict has recurred. The situation cannot be separated from the interest of other countries in the Middle East.
In the conflict theory put forward by C. Wright Mills, it is explained that conflict occurs because there are differences in interests and resources. A social structure is created because of conflicts between parties who have different interests.
Policies that appear to be aimed at good purpose actually only benefit several parties. This situation was created during the US administration of President Donald Trump. Although Trump is no longer president, this deal remains effective during the Biden administration.
Biden Continues the Abraham Accords?
The heated feud between Biden and Trump during the 2020 US Presidential election did not really affect some of Biden’s policies as president. This can be seen from the praise that was expressed by Joe Biden for the Abraham Accords peace agreement initiated by Trump.
Biden openly stated that the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain was good progress for the Middle East region. The Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Biden era, Antony Blinken, also stressed that the Biden government would continue to work with the Jewish state to promote peace in the Middle East.
The new relationship between Israel and the US started with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu congratulating US President Biden on his election, for which Israel finally received a positive response from the Biden government. President Biden also expressed support for any policies taken by Israel in terms of security.
This shows that the relationship between the US and Israel is unlikely to undergo much significant change—especially with regard to security issues in the Middle East such as the problem between Israel and Palestine. Although he continues to say that the resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine entails a two-state solution, the reality is that this has never been realized, even during the administration of President Barack Obama.
The desire to realize a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue was continuously voiced by Biden’s predecessor, Barack Obama. One attempt to make this happen was through the Peace Conference in Paris involving European countries.
However, Obama still failed to get Israel to agree on a two-state solution. Israel through Prime Minister Netanyahu did not buckle under the pressure exerted by Obama regarding the two-state solution.
Now if Biden insists on pressing for the adoption of the two-state solution, it is predicted that something similar will happen, namely that the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine will not be realized. In view of this, it is difficult to imagine any peace between Israel and Palestine. The conflict continues to rage and elicits the concern of other countries in the world, including Indonesia.
What does Indonesia support?
Until now, Indonesia has consistently advocated for Palestinian independence and statehood. This was stated recently by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, who encouraged the UN Security Council to take concrete steps to address Israeli actions against Palestine.
Although Indonesia has consistently maintained a pro-Palestine posture on the Middle East conflict, it turns out that Indonesia has reportedly received lobbying from the US to open diplomatic relations with Israel. However, until now, the Indonesian government has not changed its position on this issue.
According to the Indonesian Center for Statistics (BPS), as of 2016, some 87 percent of the total population of Indonesia was Muslim, making it the country with the largest Muslim population. So, Indonesia is of course very careful in responding to the issue of Israel and Palestine.
Moreover, the influence of religion, which is still strong in Indonesia, has made Indonesia extremely careful in making decisions, especially on opening diplomatic relations with Israel. Although officially it does not open relations with Israel, it does not mean that Indonesia has never had any contact with Israel at all. Indonesia actually had a warm relationship with Israel in the era of President Suharto’s leadership.
The relationship between the two countries was evident in 1993 when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin traveled to Jakarta to meet President Soeharto. Then, during the tenure of President Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, the discourse to open diplomatic relations also surfaced but, due to criticism from Islamic organizations, this did not materialize.
Despite the refusal to open diplomatic relations, cooperation between Indonesia and Israel continues, especially in the economic and tourism sectors. In 2015, there was cooperation between the two countries, in which Indonesia exported commodities to Israel while Israel exported high technology products to Indonesia. Meanwhile, in the tourism sector, the two countries also continue to open their territories to each other’s tourists. In this case, Indonesian tourists are Christians on a spiritual journey to Israel.
Given the current situation, efforts to reduce conflict between Israel and Palestine are not likely to succeed. And if Israel continues to wield influence over other Arab countries in the Middle East and Indonesia, then the prospects are dim that a two-state solution will ever be realized.
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of PinterPolitik.