Indonesia to normalize ties with Israel as part of bid to join OECD

World's largest Muslim country agrees to start process of establishing diplomatic ties with Israel in return for Jerusalem's approval of its request to join the OECD

Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, will normalize ties with Israel in exchange for Jerusalem’s approval of its request to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), following three months of discreet negotiations between the two countries and the organization, Ynet learned on Thursday.
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אילוס אילוסטרציה ג'קרטה אינדונזיה
אילוס אילוסטרציה ג'קרטה אינדונזיה
(Photo: Shutterstock)
"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,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann wrote in a letter issued two weeks ago to Foreign Minister Israel Katz and approves by Indonesia beforehand.
“Furthermore, any future decision to accept Indonesia as a member of the organization will require unanimous agreement among all member countries, including Israel. I am convinced that this provides you with assurance at this crucial point,” the letter added.
In a response letter sent by Katz to Cormann on Wednesday, the minister 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."
According to sources involved in the talks, Indonesia wishes to start the process of joining the OECD, which requires the consensus of all 38 member states of the organization, including the establishment of diplomatic relations with all of them.
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OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann
Originally, the OECD asked Israel "not to object" to the move, to which Katz declined citing Indonesia’s comments against Israel since the start of the war in Gaza and its support of South Africa’s litigation against Israel at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Secretary-General Cormann appealed to Katz and asked him to withdraw the objection, which he refused, insisting Indonesia must show a gesture of goodwill toward Israel. Cormann then discussed the matter with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who decided to leave the decision in Katz’s hands.
After weeks of negotiations, the OECD and Indonesia agreed to include a term in the decision stating Indonesia would have to establish diplomatic relations with Israel before a vote for its joining was approved by the organization.
Prior to this decision, Cormann made an early commitment in a formal letter notifying Katz of the agreement. "I want to sincerely thank you for our very constructive discussions over the past few weeks and for Israel's important decision to allow talks between Indonesia and the OECD regarding its joining the organization.”
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Israel Katz
(Photo: Kobi Koanx)
“As discussed with you and Prime Minister Netanyahu, the precondition of the start of diplomatic relations prior to any decision to invite Indonesia as a member of the organization is included as a clause in the OECD Council’s official conclusions for the talks,” he added.
Cormann added he was willing to assist in improving relations between Indonesia and Israel at an early stage of the talks as agreed. However, he asserted the final deadline for doing so will take place after Indonesia’s joining the OECD. "As we discussed, this process will have a positive long-term impact, so it was crucial to allow the process to begin," he wrote.
Cormann further specified Indonesia must undergo a technical process that could take between two to three years before joining the organization, implementing a roadmap that includes 26 committees to examine legislation, policies, and regulations in the country.
Each committee will include an Israeli expert, giving Israel a systematic opportunity to communicate with Indonesia - and cast a veto on its accession should it fail to normalize ties with Israel.
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