Indonesian President Joko Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi, is currently on a crucial visit to the United States, meeting with President Joe Biden and participating in the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco. The timing of this visit, against the backdrop of the Israel-Gaza conflict, raises questions about whether Jokowi will advocate for a ceasefire and address the alarming situation surrounding the Indonesia Hospital in north Gaza.
Economic Focus Amidst Crisis
Despite the pressing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, experts suggest that Jokowi is likely to prioritize economic discussions during his visit to the White House. As an outgoing president, he is keen on securing his legacy and advancing ongoing projects, including the ambitious capital city relocation project and initiatives related to critical minerals like nickel and electric vehicle production in Indonesia.
Legacy and Ongoing Projects
Jokowi’s focus on legacy includes the relocation of 1.5 million residents from Jakarta to East Kalimantan, a project estimated at $32 billion. The move aims to address Jakarta’s overpopulation and improve overall urban planning. Additionally, discussions on Indonesia’s potential membership in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are anticipated, enhancing the country’s appeal to global investors.
Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
The prospect of elevating bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and the United States into a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ is on the agenda. This move seeks to strengthen ties between the two nations, fostering economic collaboration and trade relations.
APEC Summit and Regional Priorities
The APEC summit’s theme, “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All,” aligns with Jokowi’s vision for Indonesia’s economic growth. The summit aims to build an interconnected and inclusive region, emphasizing a free, fair, and open economic policy agenda.
While economic matters dominate the discussions, the crisis in Gaza, especially concerning the Indonesia Hospital, poses a complex dilemma. Israeli forces have encircled the hospital, accusing it of harboring Hamas fighters in tunnels. Indonesia vehemently denies these allegations, asserting the hospital’s commitment to serving Palestinians.
Public Sentiment and Open Letter
The Indonesian public, known for its historical support for the Palestinian cause, has been vocal in condemning the Israeli actions. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in Jakarta, urging a ceasefire. In response to the dire situation, the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), which played a pivotal role in building the Indonesia Hospital, issued an open letter to Jokowi. The letter implores him to address the hospital’s precarious situation during his meeting with President Biden and to exert pressure for an immediate ceasefire.
In their open letter to President Joko Widodo, the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C) urges him to seize the opportunity during his visit to the United States to address the critical situation surrounding the Indonesia Hospital in Gaza. Emphasizing the indiscriminate aggression and dire conditions faced by civilians, especially women and children, the letter implores President Widodo to use his diplomatic platform to call for an immediate ceasefire. As the world looks to Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country, the plea from MER-C serves as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance President Widodo faces, navigating between economic priorities and the pressing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
While Jokowi may touch upon the Palestinian issue, experts predict that economic discussions will take precedence. Jokowi, characterized as a pragmatic leader, is expected to navigate diplomatically, focusing on what Indonesia stands to gain economically from the U.S. visit.