The Indonesian government has denied reports coming out from abroad that the country is ready to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, after the Middle Eastern state recently announced bilateral relations with its traditional opponents.
Since August, Israel has formalized ties with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco as part of a US-brokered Middle East peace plan. While the move was seen as a betrayal by Palestinians and those who support the Palestinian or Islamic cause, new reports have emerged suggesting that Israel is setting sights on establishing diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Indonesia, the latter of which is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world.
However, Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry categorically denied the reports, implying that the country would not betray its Palestinian allies.
“The Foreign Affairs Ministry is not carrying out the steps as outlined in the media reports, and I don’t know what those reports were based on,” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said, adding that Indonesia will always be committed to supporting a free and independent Palestine.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the highest clerical body in the nation, praised the ministry’s statement but warned the government not to be enticed by political and economic opportunities diplomatic ties with Israel may bring to Indonesia.
“Indonesia must remain consistent in its identity as a nation that rejects colonizers,” MUI International Relations Department Head Sudarnoto Abdul Hakim said in a written statement today.
Indonesia has never had diplomatic ties with Israel, owing to the Southeast Asian nation’s strong Islamic identity and its general perception of Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian land. In 2018, thousands of protesters flooded Central Jakarta denouncing US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, which was also part of his administration’s Middle East peace plan.
Despite the lack of ties, Indonesian tourists seeking to go on religious pilgrimage are surprisingly a valuable source of income for Israel.
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