Indonesia Denies Claims of Normalising Ties with Israel for OECD Membership

April 12, 2024, 07.49 PM | Source:
Indonesia Denies Claims of Normalising Ties with Israel for OECD Membership

ILUSTRASI. Indonesia?s foreign ministry has rejected media reports suggesting the country would normalise diplomatic ties with Israel in exchange for membership at the OECD. ANTARA FOTO/Didik Suhartono/aww.

HUBUNGAN RI-ISRAEL - SINGAPORE. Indonesia’s foreign ministry has rejected media reports suggesting the country would normalise diplomatic ties with Israel in exchange for membership at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

"I affirm that, as of now, there are no plans to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, particularly given Israel's actions in Gaza,” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Lalu Muhamad Iqbal said in a statement to Antara news agency on Thursday (Apr 11) night.

Mr Iqbal reiterated Indonesia's unwavering support for Palestinian independence within a framework of a two-state solution, emphasising that Indonesia remains consistent in defending the rights of the Palestinian people.

Indonesia is bidding to join the OECD, an intergovernmental organisation that currently has 38 members that are mostly developed countries. Accepting new countries to the organisation requires unanimous approval from members, which include Israel.

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Indonesia aims to become an advanced economy by 2045 and began the OECD accession process in February – the first country in Southeast Asia to do so.

Mr Iqbal noted it typically takes three to five years for countries to become a member. "The timing of Indonesia's full membership in the OECD is yet to be determined," he said.

The roadmap for Indonesia’s OECD membership is slated for adoption by Jakarta in May.

Indonesia has been reported to tolerate low-level quiet contact with Israel, mainly on trade, but has largely shunned direct open ties with the country. 

Last month, President Joko Widodo’s office denied media reports that Jakarta and Tel Aviv had intended to normalise relations in October 2023, before the Oct 7 Hamas attack in Israel and the resulting war against Hamas in Gaza caused the plan to be shelved.


Several leading Israeli news outlets have reported that Indonesia has agreed to normalise relations with Israel as a condition for joining the OECD.

The groundwork for this agreement was laid during three months of secret negotiations involving Jakarta, Tel Aviv and OECD secretary-general Mathias Cormann, they reported.

The reports added that Indonesia has agreed to a clause stating that it must establish diplomatic relations with Israel before its membership is approved by the organisation.

"I am pleased to announce the Council has officially agreed to the clear and explicit early conditions according to which Indonesia must establish diplomatic relations with all OECD member countries before any decision is made to admit it to the OECD,” Mr Cormann wrote in a letter issued two weeks ago to Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, according to news outlet Yedioth Ahronoth. The letter was reportedly approved by Indonesia.

In his reply to Mr Cormann on Wednesday, Mr Katz welcomed the breakthrough. "I share your expectation that this process will constitute a change for Indonesia, as I anticipate a positive change in its policy toward Israel, especially abandoning its hostile policy toward it, leading the path to full diplomatic relations between all sides." 

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According to an unnamed Israeli official, the normalisation of relations between Indonesia and Israel would be significant amid ongoing anti-Israel sentiment due to its military operations in the Gaza Strip.

Last year, world football governing body FIFA stripped Indonesia of its U-20 World Cup host status following protests by Islamic groups as well as opposition from two governors to Israel’s participation.

Normalising relations will put an end to Israel's rejection of Indonesia's OECD membership.

Israel has refused Indonesia's accession for several reasons, including the absence of formal relations between the two countries, Indonesia's outspoken criticism of Israel's actions in Gaza, and Indonesia's support for South Africa's lawsuit against Israel in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

OECD membership is expected to have a positive impact on Indonesia's economy, with projections it could increase investment from OECD countries by up to 0.37 per cent and boost the country's gross domestic product by up to 0.94 per cent.

Editor: Handoyo .

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