Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week called for Israel and Indonesia to develop bilateral relations, but Indonesia has rejected the call.
Netanyahu’s call came during a meeting on Monday with a delegation of senior Indonesian journalists.
At the meeting, Netanyahu told the journalists that "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," he added.
But an Indonesian official quoted by The Jakarta Post dismissed Netanyahu’s call on Thursday, saying the country will stand firm in its support of an independent Palestinian state and will not respond to Netanyahu’s remarks.
"We want to assert that Indonesia's support and efforts to push for the independence of Palestine will not change," Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said, according to the report.
Tantowi Yahya, a lawmaker from the House of Representatives commission overseeing foreign and security affairs, said Indonesia's support of “Palestine” was in accordance with the Constitution, which asserts that independence is the natural right of every nation.
Indonesia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations and, in fact, recent reports said the Israeli government had barred Indonesia's foreign minister from visiting Ramallah, after she refused to similarly meet with Israel officials.
The incident took place in mid-March, when Israel forced Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will be forced to hold the meeting with her Palestinian Authority counterpart Riyad al-Maliki in the Jordanian capital Amman.
Israel’s move came after Indonesian President Joko Widodo called on Muslim nations to unite in fighting Israel.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)