The Indonesian Foreign Ministry denied Wednesday reports its officials met Israeli representatives during the 62nd Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in Jakarta.
Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said Israel, as a member of the United Nations, had the right to attend the UNESCAP session as an observer, although Jakarta and Tel Aviv do not have diplomatic ties. "This is a multilateral conference, not a bilateral conference, and also Israel is invited by UNESCAP, not by us. And no, we didn't have an officials-to-officials meeting with Israel during this conference," he said. Hassan said the diplomats' participation in the conference did not change Indonesia's policy toward Israel. In the UNESCAP's list of participants, Israel was represented by Israeli Ambassador to Thailand Yael Rubinstein and Amos Nadai, deputy director general and head of the Asia and Pacific Department at the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Confirmation of a meeting with Israel would have been sure to provoke a firestorm of controversy in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country which has staunchly supported Palestinian statehood. The Associated Press reported Wednesday from Jerusalem, however, that Israeli government had confirmed its officials had met with their counterparts from Indonesia on the sidelines of the conference.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said that the meeting, which he said took place Tuesday, was a sign that the two countries could move in the right direction toward improving relations. "Israel sees no reason whatsoever why our bilateral relationship with Indonesia cannot be improved," Regev was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Desra Percaya said that the diplomats' visas were stamped on pieces of paper, not in their passports.
Indonesia has consistently rejected overtures from the Jewish state to open ties. As part of its support of Palestinian efforts to obtain independence, Jakarta said earlier this year that it would be interested in opening a mission in the Palestinian area. Last year, after Israel's Gaza Strip pullout, the foreign ministers of the two countries reportedly met secretly in New York, the highest-level meeting since their leaders met in 1993. Israel also said it sent aid to Indonesia to help tsunami victims, which Jakarta denied.
The Jakarta Post, JakartaLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16