WORLD

Indonesia to urge international protection for Al-Aqsa

INDONESIA TO URGE INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION FOR AL-AQSA

Indonesia next week will propose international protection for Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa compound to help avoid any further clashes between Israeli authorities and Palestinian worshippers, said an official on Friday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told reporters that Indonesia will urge the international community and the UN to provide oversight and protection for Al-Aqsa.

He said Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will deliver the proposal at next Tuesday's meeting in Istanbul of the foreign ministers of the member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

"We must get assurance that the situation of Al-Aqsa is gradually getting better," said Nasir as quoted by the Metro TV News website.

Nasir said Indonesia, the world's most populous majority-Muslim country, continues to call for unity among OIC states to maintain the status quo of Al-Aqsa Mosque and encourage Palestinian independence.

He cited the efforts of OIC countries to seek Palestinian independence after a half-century of Israeli occupation.

"We cannot wait another 50 years, we must increase the unity of OIC countries to be able to encourage the international community to resolve the situation in Palestine," he said.

PALESTINIAN INDEPENDENCE
Indonesia has strongly condemned the killing of three Palestinians in a clash in Jerusalem last week. The incident was triggered by the closing of the Al-Aqsa compound by Israel after two of their policemen were killed in a shootout.

Father Gomar Gultom, the secretary of Indonesia's Council of Churches (PGI), told Anadolu Agency that Jerusalem should be protected by the UN due to its historical importance to three faiths: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

He urged Indonesia's Christians and Muslims to come together to help Palestine gain independence, as well as assess the conflict between the two countries as a barrier to freedom, instead of religious tension.

He stressed that Israel should hand over Al-Aqsa -- Islam's third-holiest site -- to Muslims so they can fulfill their religious duties freely and comfortably.

"It is a place of worship and should be appreciated," he said.

The council also said that Israel should stay within its borders instead of encroaching on Palestinian territory.

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