JAKARTA: The Indonesian government on Thursday denied reports by Israeli media that officials from the two countries had recently held meetings in Tel Aviv.
Home to the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia has no formal ties with Israel and has repeatedly called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and for a two-state solution based on borders before the 1967 war.
Israel’s Army Radio reported on Monday that a delegation of Indonesian officials had visited Tel Aviv to discuss strategies related to the coronavirus pandemic but gave no details about when the meeting had taken place.
Addressing a virtual press conference, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Teuku Faizasyah, said: “What we can emphasize here is that there was no interaction between officials of the two countries, because we do not have diplomatic relations.”
He pointed out that despite the lack of formal ties, people-to-people interactions had taken place, including Indonesian pilgrims visiting religious sites in Jerusalem.
“But between governments, let me emphasize there are no formal interactions,” he added. “Please differentiate things that are official in nature and business relations or people-to-people, which are out of the government’s hands.”
Faizasyah said Indonesia’s stance on the Palestinian issue remained unchanged and its government was actively working “for Palestinian independence under the frame of a two-state solution.”
Last year, the Israeli ambassador to Singapore said Tel Aviv would be willing to work toward establishing ties with southeast Asia’s Muslim-majority nations — Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei — in the wake of the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco agreeing to normalize relations with Israel under US-brokered deals.
During a visit to Jakarta last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed with Indonesian officials the possibility of normalization, a move Indonesia said it had declined to take.
“Indonesia’s foreign minister conveyed Indonesia’s consistent position toward Palestine, in which Indonesia will always stand with Palestine in the struggle for justice and independence,” Faizasyah said at the time.