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US offering billions to coerce Indonesia into normalization with Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows protesters waving Palestinian flags at a rally against the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel.

The outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump is trying in its final days to pressure more countries into normalizing ties with Israel, this time by resorting to financial investment to coerce Indonesia to establish relations with the occupying regime despite Jakarta’s reluctance.

The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), a government agency that invests overseas, announced on Monday that Indonesia could unlock billions of dollars in additional US financing if it joins Trump’s push for Muslim countries to establish relations with Tel Aviv.

Adam Boehler, the chief executive of the DFC, said in an interview at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem al-Quds that his agency could more than double its current one-billion-dollar portfolio if Indonesia develops ties with Israel.

“We’re talking to them about it,” Boehler said. “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.”

The official also said he would not be surprised if the DFC’s funding to Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, was boosted by “one or two more billion dollars.”

Last week, the Indonesian government dismissed Israeli media allegations that Jakarta was seeking to establish diplomatic ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

Israeli English-language daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post, citing an unnamed diplomatic source, had reported that Oman and Indonesia could be next in line to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in the coming weeks.

Indonesian Islamic groups and pro-Palestinian NGOs have condemned recent normalization deals between several Arab states and Israel.

American and Israeli leaders have been pushing more countries to join the normalization agreements with Israel over the past few months, including with United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

The administration in Washington has also expressed optimism that Oman and Saudi Arabia would also join the deal.

Israel and Morocco agreed on December 10 to normalize their relations, making the North African country the fourth Arab state since August to strike a deal aimed at normalizing relations with Israel. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

On September 15, the US president hosted a White House ceremony, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed normalization agreements with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani.

Trump later announced on October 23 at the White House that Sudan and Israel had also agreed to normalize relations.

The normalization deals have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital. They say the deals ignore their rights and do not serve the Palestinian cause.

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