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Israel-Indonesia Looking to Normalize Ties

After the successful conclusion of the Abraham Accord in 2020, there are now talks that Israel and Indonesia might normalize their ties. Such closer ties are strongly supported by the US. During the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit to Jakarta in December 2021, Blinken raised the issue with the Indonesian government.

Last month Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid expressed hope that ties might be normalized between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. However, he also added that such negotiations will take time. 

It may be noted that Saudi Arabia is home to two of the holiest sites of Islam and Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population. Both the countries have remained cautious over the issue of ties with Israel and the statehood of Palestinians. 

During a recent talk on Army Radio, the Israeli minister said Israel is looking to “expand the Abraham Accords to additional countries” beyond the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.

“If you’re asking me what the important countries that we’re looking at are, Indonesia is one of them, Saudi Arabia of course, but these things take time,” Lapid confirmed. 

Israel’s recognition among the South Eastern Asian region has a long history. 

In Indonesia, its former president Abdurrahman Wahid had first proposed the idea of normalizing ties with Israel, however, it was opposed by political parties within the country.   

In recent months, things have changed between the two countries. The two countries are collaborating in the agricultural sector. In the latter part of 2021, there were a series of meetings, statements, which hinted that the two sides are talking.  

Though Indonesia and Israel do not have formal diplomatic ties, the countries, however, engage in trade and tourism. 

While the Israeli minister has expressed hope, Indonesian leaders are yet to confirm anything on those lines. 

For Indonesia, the government would have to mobilize support for this major foreign policy change and get the support of the Parliament. 

As some key Arab countries have normalized ties, Indonesia does not risk antagonizing Arab countries if it goes ahead with establishing ties with Israel. Normalizing ties with Israel will help Jakarta, economically and technology transfer from Israel to Indonesia will benefit it. 

Inside Indonesia, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s coalition will face an election in 2024. So far, he maintained a strong government. It depends on how the coalition enters the poll phase which begins by mid of this year and gambles with the issue formally.