Mon, 31 Oct 1994

MUI condemns Indonesian Moslems' visit to Israel

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) condemned the recent visit of a group of Indonesian Moslems to Israel over the weekend, saying they offended the Arab countries fighting Israel.

"The visit was illegal and the delegation represented neither the government nor Indonesian Moslems," MUI Chairman Hasan Basri told The Jakarta Post by telephone here on Saturday.

He said MUI never sent any delegation to the Jewish state, with whom Indonesia has no diplomatic relations.

The Indonesian Moslems' visit to Israel was reported by the AFP news agency on Friday. The report said that the "Moslem leaders delegation" was in the Middle East to attend the signing ceremony of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty on Wednesday.

AFP quoted Danny Shek, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, as saying that in their meeting with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin the "Moslem leaders" called for enhanced relations between Indonesia and Israel.

They also emphasized that all religions have the obligation to shun violence and terrorism.

According to the report, the "delegation" was led by Johan Effendi when it met with Beilin in Jerusalem.

Hasan considered the Israeli visit a "hasty action," saying that it may hurt the feelings of Arab countries fighting against the Jewish state.

"They (Johan Effendi and his entourage) do not realize that they were used by the Israeli government to undermine the friendly ties between Indonesia and Arab countries," he said.

Still in Israel

Sources in Jakarta said yesterday that Johan Effendi and his entourage were still in Israel. Johan (also spelled Djohan), 55, was installed as a senior research specialist in the field of religious and social studies at the Ministry of Religious Affairs in 1992. He graduated from the Sunan Kalijaga Islamic Institute in Yogyakarta in 1972.

Hasan said that Effendi was not an ulema nor a Moslem leader. "I know him well. He is a university lecturer."

Hasan warned that the government and Moslem organizations, as well as individuals, should be cautious in making contact with Israel as it remains a very sensitive problem.

Indonesia, the world's largest Moslem country, has never recognized Israel.

Moslem groups were angered by a visit to Israel by a group of Indonesian journalists earlier this year on the Israeli government's sponsorship.

Hasan said MUI supports government policy stating that Indonesia will consider establishing ties with Israel only if a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement is achieved.

At the informal level, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stopped off in Jakarta on an Asian tour last year where he met with the chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, Indonesia's President Soeharto. (rms)

Peace -- Page 2

Rabin -- Page 16