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Palestinian envoy sees no issue in Indonesia's trade with Israel

Jakarta Globe - May 10, 2024

Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Palestinian Ambassador to Indonesia Zuhair Al-Shun gave his comments on Friday regarding Indonesia's existing trade with Israel, claiming that it would not affect Jakarta's lack of official ties with the latter.

Indonesia to this day has not established official diplomatic ties with Israel as a way of support for Palestine. However, government data shows Indonesia is still trading with Israel with trade volume reaching approximately $187.7 million throughout 2023.

Al-Shun said that the existing trade did not mean Indonesia would eventually normalize ties with Israel. His statement was also a response to the Jakarta Globe's question on whether Palestine was hoping for Indonesia to impose economic sanctions against Israel.

"No political or diplomatic relations means it cannot be an easy way of dealing with trade and other sectors," Al-Shun said in Jakarta.

"If there are individual companies here [Indonesia] or there [Israel trading] through indirect channels, this will not affect or create that relation," Al-Shun said.

The ambassador called Indonesia a "sovereign country that knows where they have to move", and the benefits of its own actions. Al-Shun claimed that he had already spoken with the Indonesian government during which Jakarta made its stance clear.

The diplomat said that he was aware that some Indonesians had been traveling to Israel for religious purposes. He added: "And this does not mean diplomatic relation is there, or there is a direct approach [between Indonesia and Israel]."

In 2023, Indonesia's exports to Israel reached $165.8 million. Indonesia-Israel trade volume amounted to $65.8 million in the first quarter of 2023, up by 47.1 percent from the same period last year, according to government data. Indonesia's trade figures with Palestine reached $4.3 million throughout last year.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) recently denied Indonesia importing dates –a Ramadan staple– from Israel. BPS claimed that Indonesia mainly bought its dates from Tunisia and Egypt in January-February 2024.

Al-Shun's comment came not long after Israeli media claimed that Indonesia was mulling normalizing ties with Israel to gain entry to the Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). Israel is a member of the OECD. For Indonesia to get a seat at the rich-country club, Indonesia has to get the approval from all of the group's members.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/business/palestinian-envoy-sees-no-issue-in-indonesias-trade-with-israe