PA Charges Israel With Barring Indonesian Foreign Minister

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi delivers her statement at a press briefing during the conclusion of the Asian African Conference ministerial meeting in Jakarta April 20, 2015.

TEL AVIV – The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has accused Israel of denying entry to the Indonesian foreign minister because she refused to meet with senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi (pictured) was slated to dedicate an honorary Indonesian consulate in Ramallah and meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.

Instead Maliki traveled to Jordan to meet with Marsudi, the PA Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.

“In recognition of the historical and unique ties between Palestine and Indonesia, and this country’s supportive stance with the Palestinian people, al-Malki traveled to Amman to meet with his Indonesian counterpart,” the statement read.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the charge.

On Friday, Marsudi announced her intention to visit Ramallah.

The decision to refuse Marsudi entry to Ramallah comes less than a week after Indonesia held the 5th Extraordinary Organization of Islamic Cooperation Summit on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif, which discussed the possibility of boycotting Israeli products made in the West Bank.

“Technically, the mandatory declaration of the country of origin in every imported goods document has made it is possible for Indonesia to ban Israeli products,” said Benny Soetrisno, deputy chairman for trade of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Times of Israel reported.

“However, it is also possible for Israel to do the same thing to Indonesian products,” he said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s 2014 presidential campaign emphasized the Palestinian issue with the promise to open an office in Ramallah in a bid to support Palestinian independence.

Widodo also told a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Jakarta last week that he appointed a Palestinian, Maia Abu Shusha, to serve as Indonesia’s honorary consul to the Palestinian Authority.

According to Widodo, Abu Shusha would be tasked with strengthening economic, social, and cultural ties, and encouraging tourism and business exchanges between Indonesia and the Palestinian territories.

Indonesia exported over $100 million worth of goods to Israel in 2015 and imported nearly $80 million in goods from Israel, according to the Jakarta Post.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, with a population of over 250 million people.

Even though Indonesia and Israel do not have official diplomatic ties, they maintain economic and tourism agreements. The Population, Immigration, and Border Authority stated that some 300,000 Indonesian tourists arrived in Israel in 2013, up from only 9,442 in 2009.

According to a 2014 BBC poll, around 75% of Indonesians hold a negative view of Israel.