US official: Indonesia could get billions if it establishes relations with Israel

Head of US government agency says Indonesia could get additional US financing if it joins Trump's initiative to establish ties with Israel.

Ben Ariel ,

Jakarta, Indonesia
Jakarta, Indonesia

Indonesia could unlock billions of dollars in additional US financing if it joins US President Donald Trump’s push for Muslim countries to establish relations with Israel, the head of a US government agency that invests overseas told Bloomberg News in an interview.

Adam Boehler, Chief Executive Officer of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), said the DFC could more than double its current $1 billion portfolio if Indonesia develops ties with Israel.

“We’re talking to them about it. If they’re ready, they’re ready and if they are then we’ll be happy to even support more financially than what we do,” he told Bloomberg, adding he wouldn’t be surprised if his organization’s funding to Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, was boosted by “one or two more billion dollars.”

The US also hopes Oman and Saudi Arabia will forge ties with Israel after other Arab countries have done so, although Boehler said DFC funding to those two countries would be restricted because the organization isn’t allowed to invest directly in higher-income states.

Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Last month, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi assured Palestinian Authority (PA) “foreign minister” Riyad Malki of her country’s firm position in support of the PA in ending the “Israeli occupation of its land”.

In 2016 it was reported that the Israeli government had barred Marsudi from visiting Ramallah, after she refused to similarly meet with Israel officials.

Israel’s move came after Indonesian President Joko Widodo called on Muslim nations to unite in fighting Israel.

Later that year, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called for Israel and Indonesia to develop bilateral relations. Indonesia promptly rejected those calls, saying the country will stand firm in its support of an independent Palestinian state and will not respond to Netanyahu’s remarks.