Loading your search results


Peace and Conflict

Israel and Indonesia to normalise relations? | Update 11 April 2024

Israel and Indonesia to normalise relations? via BICom

What’s happened: According to reports, Israel is set to normalise relations with Indonesia.

  • The move is set to be part of Indonesia’s bid to join the intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with negotiations having taken place over the last three months.
  • According to revelations from Yediot Ahronot, OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann wrote to Indonesia two weeks ago indicating that its membership was contingent on it establishing diplomatic relations with all member states, including Israel, and that membership would need to be ratified by all member states, including Israel.
  • Israeli Foreign Minister Katz has handled negotiations on the Israeli side, with the move to a successful conclusion indicating that the process has recovered from Jakarta’s public criticism of Israel’s war in Gaza and its support for South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Indonesia also filed its own case against Israel at the ICJ in January.

Context: Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim state, by population, and a normalisation of relations with Israel would prove a significant breakthrough in the US vision of a Middle East and wider Muslim world at peace with the Jewish State.

  • It is thought that normalisation was close to fruition in the autumn of last year, before October 7th shifted the dynamic.
  • October 7th and the war in Gaza also interrupted progress towards normalisation with Saudi Arabia – just as they were intended to do by Iran and Hamas. Securing this normalisation with the leader of the Arab world was a key plank in the Biden Administration’s foreign policy agenda.
  • The Indonesian normalisation process was begun during the tenure of outgoing Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and is supported by President-Elect Prabowo Subianto, known to be a long-time advocate of normalisation.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding was apparently agreed in September 2023, indicating the two nations’ wish to advance and expand the process of the Abraham Accords, which saw the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco normalise relations with Israel.
  • Even prior to these breakthroughs, Israeli-Indonesian trade had long taken place quietly but regularly, mostly in the field of agri-tech and to the value of about $500 million per year.
  • A signal of the thaw in relations and the move to normalisation was provided on Tuesday, when Israel cooperated with an Indonesian aid airdrop into Gaza. Israel had previously refused to allow Turkey and Qatar – other states without normalised relations – to do so.

Developments in Gaza: The IDF yesterday killed three sons of Hamas Political Bureau Director Ismail Haniyeh in an airstrike in the Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza. Four of the men’s children, three girls and a boy, were also killed in the attack.

  • The IDF said Amir, Muhammad, Hazem Haniyeh were “on their way to carry out a terror attack in the central Gaza Strip,” and were targeted in a real time operation (ie not as part of a pre-planned operation) and without the knowledge of either the prime or defence minister.
  • The IDF were explicit that the three had been targeted due to an imminent threat, and not due to their family connections. Amir was known to be a squad commander in Hamas’s military wing, while the army also said that at least one of the three had been involved in holding Israeli hostages kidnapped on October 7th.
  • Ismail Haniyeh responded publicly to the news. As well as “thank[ing] God for bestowing upon us the honour of their martyrdom,” he said that regardless of “the size of the sacrifice, Hamas won’t surrender,” and that anyone who thought such actions would pressure Hamas into accepting a hostage deal was “deceiving himself”.
  • The killing of Haniyeh’s sons came in the midst of US-brokered hostage release negotiations between Israel and Hamas, and as Israel awaits a formal Hamas response to the latest proposal. Preliminary public responses from Hamas officials indicate that the proposal will be rejected.
  • Due to the nature of real-time operations, they can be approved at the operational level, without consultation with either top military brass or the political echelon. The strike on the Haniyehs is thought to have been approved by an IDF colonel.
  • The presence of the three men in one of the northern-most corners of Gaza is a clear indication that despite IDF achievements in the north, the Hamas presence remains.
  • Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi expressed his “deep sorrow” to Haniyeh.

The Iranian threat: The US and Israel have intensified joint preparations for an anticipated Iranian response to the killing in Damascus last week of IRGC commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said yesterday that "Israel must be punished, and they will pay for their mistakes."
  • Israeli Defence Minister Gallant, on a visit to an Iron Dome unit, said "Whoever tries to attack us will be faced with strong defence and right after with strong response in his territory."
  • The US and Israel are bracing for an Iranian response, either on “soft targets” like overseas embassies, or a direct attack on Israel using ballistic missiles, drones and cruise missiles.
  • Gallant’s comments are being interpreted as a sign that in response to any Iranian strike, Israel is likely to look to strike Iranian territory directly. The Israeli Air Force this week held an exercise in Cyprus, alongside Cypriot counterparts, simulating an attack on a long-range target.
  • The fear of serious regional escalation is acute, with tensions between Israel and Iran’s Hezbollah proxy on Israel’s northern border also at a high-point. Reports indicate that the US has prevailed on its regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and Iraq to convey messages to Iran urging it not to escalate.
  • In remarks made at a press conference in Washington yesterday alongside Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, President Biden said the US “commitment to Israel’s security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad. Let me say it again, ironclad. We’re going to do all we can to protect Israel’s security.”
  • Confused reports emerged last night, as the Iranian Mehr news agency, which has ties to the regime, announced that all air traffic over Tehran was suspended due to “military drills”. The agency then quickly removed its post on X (formerly Twitter) and denied ever having posted it.

Looking ahead: Gen. Erik Kurilla, commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), is set to arrive in Israel today to coordinate responses to any Iranian attack.

  • Hamas’s formal response to the latest hostage proposal remains outstanding.

via BICom