Monday, January 19, 2009

Yudhoyono offers Gaza peacekeepers

Indonesia has offered to send a peacekeeping mission to the Gaza Strip should Israel and Hamas agree on an immediate cease-fire sought by the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Saturday he had sent a letter to the UN regarding the offer.

While urging the UN to put an end to three weeks of violence which has killed over 1,200 people, the President said Indonesia was ready to move its military peacekeepers from their UN duty on the Lebanon-Israel border to Gaza.

“We have been urging the UN to immediately impose a cease-fire. Should it happen, we are ready to dispatch our military troops to ensure there will be no more strikes in Gaza. I am asking for people’s support regarding this matter,” Yudhoyono said in his speech marking the eighth anniversary of the National Alms Management Body (Baznas).

A Garuda XXV-A contingent of 210 soldiers is conducting a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon under the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Yudhoyono called on the public to provide donations “in whatever form”, as the besieged people of Gaza were in dire need of basic necessities including food, medicine and electricity.

He also said sending jihad fighters to the conflict area was not what the Palestinians needed.

“I’ve talked to leaders in the Middle East, to the Palestinian ambassador to Indonesia, to the UN Resident Coordinator in Indonesia…and [the conclusion is] additional weaponry, bombs, rockets, tanks, or air force are not what the people of Gaza need,” Yudhoyono said.

“What they badly need is food, medicine, electricity and medical equipment, so let’s channel our efforts together and provide them with what they need to survive. That is the way to save the lives of our brothers and sisters in Palestine.”

The President reiterated his disappointment with the UN’s “slow” action handling the conflict, which he called an “outrageous tragedy to humanity that the world cannot let continue”.

He praised Baznas’ move to collect donation for Palestinians. (Erwida Maulia/

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