TEL AVIV – Israel maintains unofficial diplomatic ties with Indonesia, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said.
Hotovely was responding on Wednesday to a parliamentary question from MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) regarding Israel’s decision to bar Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi entry to the Palestinian Authority.
Marsudi was denied entry after allegedly refusing to meet with Israeli officials in Jerusalem. She was due to visit her Palestinian counterpart, Riyad al-Malki, in Ramallah and dedicate the first honorary Indonesian consulate in PA-controlled territories on Sunday. Instead, Marsudi met with Malki in Jordan.
Hotovely revealed that although Israel and Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim nation – do not share formal diplomatic relations, Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General in the Asia-Pacific Division Mark Sofer recently visited Jakarta.
Israeli and Indonesian officials agreed at that meeting that Marsudi would meet with senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem during her visit to the region, as is the procedure for all visiting officials, Hotovely explained.
“It was the foreign minister of Indonesia’s decision to violate that understanding, and she understood that, by her action of skipping Jerusalem, she is going against the rules Israel set for official visits to the PA and Israel,” Hotovely stated.
Hotovely added that there is “continuous contact” between Jakarta and Jerusalem, and Israel is seeking to further improve ties.
“We’re seeing growth in our ties with Asia like never before, even though the Palestinian Authority and its leaders are doing all they can to prevent the development of these relations,” she said. “Israel-Asia ties are getting stronger and stronger.”
Tibi fired back that Hotovely’s answer proves that Israel is a “foreign ruler” over the Palestinians.
“A country with no ties to Israel, one of the biggest Muslim countries in the world, wants to enter the PA and meet with PA leaders. Why are you involved? [The PA] is a country recognized in the UN; the whole world recognizes it. Maybe this is a situation of foreign rule that must end. Your answer proves what I’m saying,” he said.
Hotovely took Tibi to task over his definition: “We are not a foreign regime. We are here as the legitimate government in the land of the Jewish people, in which there is an Arab minority with equal rights. You represent that minority.”
The deputy foreign minister accused Indonesia of violating diplomatic codes.
“The respectable thing to do when there are secret ties, like those between Israel and Indonesia, is to respect the code,” she said. “When you break it, don’t be surprised that you’re preventing yourself from visiting the PA.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was in Jakarta last week, attending the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit on “Palestine.” The Jakarta Post reported that OIC member countries were asked to pressure the international community to ban Israeli-made products. They also committed to supporting Jerusalem as the capital for a future state of Palestine – including with financial aid.
Indonesia recognized Palestinian statehood in 1988 and has refused to establish formal diplomatic ties with Israel until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.