Israel in covert talks with Indonesia on normalization: media reports

Middle East Monitor  /  September 6, 2023

Israeli officials are holding “confidential talks” with Indonesia aimed at improving diplomatic relations between the two countries, according to a report by Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

The report notes that normalization between the world’s largest Muslim-majority country and the occupation state could come into fruition following the upcoming elections for the Indonesian presidency in February 2024.

As current President Joko Widodo has already been elected for two terms, he cannot run for a third. Widodo, in line with Jakarta’s longstanding policy, has maintained a hostile stance towards Israel throughout his tenure. The country’s support for Palestine is said to be mandated by its 1945 Constitution with its preamble, stating that: “Whereas Independence is the inalienable right of all nations; therefore, colonialism must be abolished in the world as it is not in conformity with humanity and justice.”

Despite this, and the Indonesian government’s repeated denials of any contact with Israel, Ynet reports Israel maintains “discrete channels of communication with parties interested in improving relations between the two countries. They also engage in trade, tourism and security collaborations.”

Citing an anonymous Israeli official, the report also claims that Indonesia is wary of an inevitable backlash from the public, making it more likely that Jakarta will follow Saudi Arabia’s lead rather than act unilaterally.

The official added that persuading Indonesia to normalize relations would be challenging, given the far-right makeup of the current Israeli government.