Jayanty Nada Shofa & Natasha Christy Wahyuni, Jakarta – Foreign Affairs Ministry's spokesman Teuku Faizasyah denies Israeli media claims of Indonesia seeking to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel.
Last week, Israeli news outlet claimed that Indonesia is likely to establish ties with Israel after four Arab states – the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco – decided to open diplomatic relations with Jerussalem. Indonesia debunked these claims, saying they have never communicated with Israel nor changing their position in the Palestinian issue.
"There are two things that I would like to say. First, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has never been in contact with Israel. Secondly, when it comes to running foreign policy, the Foreign Affairs Ministry is still consistent with Palestine in accordance with the mandate of the constitution," Teuku said in Jakarta on Monday.
Indonesia often reiterates their stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in numerous international meetings.
At the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo expressed Indonesia's unceasing support for Palestine. The president highlighted how Palestine is the only participant of the 1955 Bandung Conference – a world summit on world peace attended by 29 Asian and African nations – who has not reached independence.
In June, Indonesia, along with Tunisia and South Africa, initiated a ministerial-level UN Security Council meeting to discuss Israel's annexation plan over the West Bank. At the meeting, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi called the international community to oppose Israel's plan as it violates the international laws and threatens the future of the Palestinian people.
"Injustice happens not because of the absence of justice. Injustice happens because we allow it to happen. It's time we stop the injustice," Retno said, as quoted by the ministry's official website.
The US government under Donald Trump's leadership has been encouraging Arab nations to embrace ties with Israel. The UAE, along with Bahrain, had inked a normalization agreement titled the Abraham Accords at the White House in September. The agreement was named after Abraham, the common patriarch of the three Abrahamic religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.
Subsequently, Sudan struck a similar deal in October, followed by Morocco last week.
On Friday, Times of Israel published an article – quoting Channel 12's unnamed diplomatic sources – that Saudi Arabia plays a role in the Israel-Morocco deal. The diplomatic sources did not detail Saudi's involvement in the agreement. The Saudi government also remains quiet in regards to these claims.
According to the article, many analysts speculate a normalization agreement would not have taken place without Saudi's nod of approval. This is mainly because Saudi Arabia holds a central role in the region, particularly among Sunni states.
Times of Israel also cited unsourced reporting of Channel 13 TV on Saudi and Trump administration's efforts to get other nations on board before Joe Biden takes his oath next month.
The unsourced report claimed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be attentive of these deals to prepare an eventual Saudi-Israel deal. Saudi, however, is expected to take baby steps before a full agreement takes off. Whilst Oman is possibly the next Arab country to strike the deal with Israel.
"It also said that Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, was eager to have public ties with Israel," Times of Israel wrote.
A separate article by the Jerusalem Post on the normalization agreement said Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen mentioned Indonesia in an Army Radio interview. The article, however, did not specify what Eli said in regards to the matter.
Jerusalem Post also wrote the two countries cooperate in trade and tourism despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations.
The article listed several contacts made in the past. Between the 1970s and 1980s, Indonesia had purchased arms from Israel, referring to the Skyhawk aircrafts bought under Operation Alpha. Indonesian soldiers have also received military training in Israel.
In 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin met former President Suharto at his private residence in Jakarta.