Israel Committing ‘Ethnic Cleansing’: Parliament Speaker

JAKARTA ~ Israel is carrying out “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians, a top Indonesian politician said on Wednesday in the lead-up to celebrations and protests marking the Jewish state’s 60th anniversary.

“There is nearly no day without the blood of innocent people being spilled in Palestine,” Agung Laksono, the speaker of parliament, told an international anti-Zionist conference here marking the anniversary.

“Israeli soldiers, in a planned manner, murder and destroy the Palestinians. Villages are bombed, homes are destroyed and their fields and burned,” he said.

“We condemn the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israel.”

Laksono delivered the opening speech at the conference after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono withdrew his participation. A spokesman for the president could not be reached for comment.

While many Israelis saw Thursday’s anniversary as a celebration of nationhood, many Palestinians and their supporters were commemorating the date of Israel’s 1948 creation as the Naqba or “catastrophe.”

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and has been a staunch supporter of the Palestinian struggle for nationhood. It has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

At the same time it has taken an active interest in playing a greater role in Middle East peace efforts. The country has had peacekeepers stationed in Lebanon since 2006.

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