Israel calls on Indonesia to play a more active role in Middle East affairs

This month, a letter appeared in Indonesia’s main English-language newspaper.

It was signed by Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Whbee and it called on Indonesia to expand its role in the Middle East, and to engage more with the challenges facing the Muslim world.

This might come as something of a surprise, given that Indonesia has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

It also happens to be the world’s most populous Muslim country, is a member of Opec and enjoys good relations with Iran and Syria.

But Indonesia is the kind of Muslim country many western nations and their allies feel comfortable with – it is democratic, pluralist, and has had real success in tackling Islamic extremism.

No wonder some people see it as an ideal candidate to bridge the gaps between the Muslim world and the West.

To some extent, it is already involved in that dialogue. Indonesia took part in last year’s Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, and is working on capacity-building programmes for the Palestinians.

But given its size and political spread, could it do more? Should it have a more prominent role in issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or Iran’s nuclear programme?



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