Indonesia wants to maintain business relations with Australia despite concerns over Jerusalem

Indonesia actively aspires to realize a billion-dollars free trade agreement with Australia by the end of this year, despite Jakarta’s condemnation of Canberra’s decision to weigh the option of moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognize the city as the capital of the Jewish state. Earlier this week, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki warned Australia that if it moves its embassy to Jerusalem, it will risk the country’s trade and business relationship with the Arab and Muslim world. The Palestinian warning was made in a joint press conference in Jakarta with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi, who also warned Canberra that its actions could threaten the world’s peace and security. That said, Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, attempted to clarify its statement. In a Foreign Ministry press conference, it sought reassure the Australian government that their bilateral trade agreements would not be affected by Canberra’s political decisions yet urged Australia to hold back on actions that could damage the non-existent peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Indonesia Foreign Ministry Spokesman Armanatha Nasir stated that “We have told Australia not to take actions which could damage the peace process or actions that could trigger instability in the Middle East, and we have also emphasized that the issue of Jerusalem is an issue that needs to be agreed upon in the final negotiations later – we are sure that Australia has understood what we mean.” While the Palestinians were historically backed by Muslim and Arab nations in preserving their demands, support that culminated in the famous 1973 oil embargo of Israel and its supporters, this leverage has significantly diminished in recent years, especially since President Donald Trump – a staunch supporter of Israel – has assumed office. Furthermore, Iran’s aggression in the Middle East and its rivalry with Saudi Arabia has aligned Jerusalem with the Moderate Arab world, an alignment of strategic interests that receives precedence over the Palestinian quest for statehood.