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April 3, 2016 12:37 am

Indonesia Pushes Back on Netanyahu’s Call for Normalization

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Photo: Facebook/Screenshot.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Photo: Facebook/Screenshot. – Indonesia has pushed back against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for normalized relations between the two countries.

On March 28, during a meeting with a visiting delegation of Indonesia journalists, Netanyahu said 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,” he said.

Yet Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said the country regrets “that such activities are politicized by Israel.”

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“We want to assert that Indonesia’s support and efforts to push for the independence of Palestine will not change,” said Nasir, The Jakarta Post reported Thursday.

In March, Israel prevented Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi from entering Ramallah to meet with the Palestinian Authority because Marsudi intended to skip a state visit to Jerusalem. But during a Knesset debate on the issue, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely revealed that Israel has had “continuous contact” with Indonesia, including an unofficial visit to Indonesia by Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General in the Asia-Pacific Division Mark Sofer. During that trip, Israel and Indonesia had secretly agreed that Marsudi would visit Jerusalem, but Masrudi later backtracked on that deal.

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