Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week discussed with senior Indonesian officials the possibility of the world’s largest Muslim country establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, although no immediate breakthrough is expected, according to a report Thursday.
Visiting the Indonesian capital Jakarta, Blinken raised the idea of the country joining the Abraham Accords brokered under the administration of former President Donald Trump, which have seen Israel normalize relations with four Arab countries.
The report, by the Walla website, cited Israeli officials familiar with the discussions, who assessed that no imminent breakthrough was likely.
It also quoted a senior U.S. official saying Joe Biden’s administration was working “quietly but quite assiduously” to expand the Abraham Accords, adding that it could take time.
The report cited State Department spokesperson Ned Price commenting, “We are always exploring additional opportunities for normalization, but we’ll leave those discussions behind closed doors until the right moment.”
Last month, Israel’s chargé d’affaires in Bahrain spoke with Indonesia’s defense minister in a rare public interaction between officials from the countries, which have never had formal diplomatic ties. The encounter between Itay Tagner and Prabowo Subianto took place on the sidelines of Bahrain’s annual Manama Dialogue conference.
Additionally, National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata met briefly during the same conference with Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, exchanging business cards with him, according to Walla.
With a population of over 270 million, Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. That gave it “extra symbolic importance” to the Trump administration, which maintained that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict need not be a hindrance to peace between Israel and the Muslim and Arab worlds, a U.S. official explained.
Indonesia’s President tried to tamp down speculation at the time, telling Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that his country would not normalize ties with Israel until a Palestinian state had been established.