Despite strong support from its House of Representatives, the Indonesian government has denied the terror organization Hamas' request to open a representative office in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, The Jakarta Post reported.
Hamas was planning to open an official office in Indonesia with a focus on raising money and managing Hamas ties in the Far East. Hamas claims they have opened similar offices in Russia, India, and Germany.
Indonesia with a population of over 250 million, and one of the most populous Muslim countries in the world, was seen by Hamas as a perfect destination for this type of activity.
Hasan Kleib, the Foreign Ministry's director general for multilateral affairs, said that Indonesia, which has recognized the state of Palestine since 1988, is engaged in diplomatic relations with the official Palestinian government only - not with political factions.
“I’m still not fully clear about Hamas’ intention to open an office in Jakarta, but Indonesia does not differentiate between factions in Palestine. The Embassy of Palestine in Jakarta represents all the people of Palestine,” he said.
Hamas sent a seven-member delegation to Indonesia on Friday in an attempt to influence the government, who had already indicated their intention not to approve Hamas' plan.
The delegation visited the House of Representatives to discuss their struggle for independence, and to push for an official office in Jakarta, with House speaker Setya Novanto, deputy speaker Fadli Zon, and several lawmakers.
Abu Umar Muhammad, one of the delegation members and Hamas deputy head for political affairs, expressed his appreciation for Indonesia’s continuing support. He also stressed Indonesia's responsibility to accommodate a Hamas representative office.
“While acknowledging that some Indonesians have been there [in Palestine to support its independence struggle], we keep hoping that Indonesia will give even more support, in particular on the political side,” he said during the meeting.
It seems, however, that Hamas's plan to open a representative office was nixed because of counter-pressure from the Palestinian Authority as well as moderate Arab states who support PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and oppose Hamas.
Palestinian Authority Ambassador to Indonesia, Fariz Mehdawi, rejected the idea of a political party having a diplomatic office abroad, calling it "unacceptable."
“I am not aware of any political party in any country establishing an office…only states establish embassies and consulates in other countries,” Mehdawi stressed.