Israel said to block Indonesian foreign minister from Ramallah
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Israel said to block Indonesian foreign minister from Ramallah

Retno Marsudi had planned to meet with PA President Abbas in Ramallah to discuss new West Bank consulate

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (2nd row R) looks on, during the opening ceremony of the 5th Extraordinary Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit on the Palestinian territories in Jakarta m March 7, 2016. (Adek Berry/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (2nd row R) looks on, during the opening ceremony of the 5th Extraordinary Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit on the Palestinian territories in Jakarta m March 7, 2016. (Adek Berry/AFP)

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry accused Israel of preventing the Indonesian foreign minister from entering Ramallah because she did not plan to also visit Jerusalem Sunday.

Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi was slated to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.

But in a statement, the ministry said Israel blocked Marsudi because she would not extend her trip and meet with Israeli officials, according to Arab media accounts.

Instead Maliki traveled to Jordan to meet with Marsudi, the ministry said, according to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.

“In recognition of the historical and unique ties between Palestine and Indonesia and this country’s supportive stance with the Palestinian people, al-Malki traveled to Amman to meet with his Indonesian counterpart,” the statement read.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has declined to comment on the allegation.

The main purpose of Marsudi’s visit was to inaugurate an honorary consulate and its consul, who has been appointed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the Indonesian Jakarta Post reported.

On Friday, Marsudi announced her intention to visit Ramallah, following a working trip to Jordan.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic Indonesia)
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic Indonesia)

In the past Israel has allowed foreign diplomats to visit Palestinian officials without also meeting with Israelis, which makes this case, if true, a change in the established protocol.

The decision to block Marsudi’s entrance to Ramallah comes less than a week after Indonesia held the 5th Extraordinary Organization of Islamic Cooperation Summit on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif, which discussed the possibility of boycotting Israeli products made in the West Bank.

“Technically, the mandatory declaration of the country of origin in every imported goods document has made it is possible for Indonesia to ban Israeli products,” said Benny Soetrisno, deputy chairman for trade of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“However, it is also possible for Israel to do the same thing to Indonesian products,” he said.

Indonesia exported over $100 million (NIS 387 million) worth of goods to Israel in 2015 and imported nearly $80 million (NIS 310 million)in goods from Israel, according to the Jakarta Post.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, with a population of over 250 million people.

Approximately 75 percent of Indonesians hold a negative view of Israel, according to a 2014 BBC poll. And Indonesia does not have formal diplomatic ties with Israel, though the two do have trade agreements.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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