(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Monday in Jerusalem with a delegation of senior Indonesian journalists who visited Israel as guests of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Israel and Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, do not have formal diplomatic relations, but there are business ties between the countries and the governments reportedly maintain unofficial contacts.
Netanyahu told the visiting journalists, “The time has come for official relations between Indonesia and Israel. We have many opportunities to cooperate in the fields of water and technology. Israel has excellent relations with several countries in Asia, particularly China, Japan, India, and Vietnam. In addition, Israel is also deepening its relations with Africa, Latin America, and Russia….Relations with the Arab world are also changing. Indeed, we are allies in the fight against radical Islam. Relations between Israel and Indonesia must also change. I have more than a few Indonesian friends on Facebook. The time has come to change our relations; the reasons that prevented this are no longer relevant and I hope that your visit will help with this.”
The delegation’s meeting with Netanyahu came just two weeks after Israel prevented Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi from visiting Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority officials because she did not also plan to visit Jerusalem to meet with Israeli government officials. After that incident, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that Marsudi’s intention to skip over a stop in Jerusalem marked a violation of a secret understanding previously agreed between Israel and Indonesia.
“Despite the fact that Indonesia does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel, we have much respect for the Indonesian people and their leaders,” Hotovely said at the time. “There are ongoing contacts between us and Indonesia on a range of issues and we are seeking all the time to improve ties.”