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'We’re talking to them about it,' says DFC chief

Trump administration offering Indonesia billions in aid for Israel normalization

Top official says world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation could get $1 to $2 billion more in development assistance if it joins countries recognizing Jewish state

US President Donald Trump listens as Adam Boehler, CEO of U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
US President Donald Trump listens as Adam Boehler, CEO of U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A top Trump administration official said that Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, could receive up to $2 billion in US development aid if it recognizes Israel.

Adam Boehler, the CEO of the US International Development Finance Corp., told Bloomberg in an interview published Tuesday that Indonesia could get $1 billion to $2 billion more in development aid if it joins the rush being organized by the Trump administration in its final days to have Arab and Muslim countries openly recognize 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.”

In an effort led by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner — US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a longtime friend of Boehler — the administration is pushing normalization agreements between Israel and Arab and Muslim states as the president nears the end of his term.

In this photo released by the Indonesian Presidential Palace, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, right, talks with US.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during their meeting at Bogor Presidential Palace in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (Indonesian Presidential Palace via AP)

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have signed agreements, Morocco hosted a US-Israel delegation Tuesday to sign agreements, and Sudan has agreed to a deal.

There are also hopes that Oman and Saudi Arabia could also agree to normalize ties, however, Boehler told Bloomberg that his organization could not supply them with funding because the DFC isn’t allowed to invest directly in higher-income states.

Boehler spoke to Bloomberg in Jerusalem, where he traveled together with Kushner before joining him Tuesday as he led a joint Israeli-American delegation to Morocco for high-level talks with Moroccan officials, including King Mohammed VI, as Israel and Morocco announced they would move to swiftly reopen diplomatic missions in each country.

Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat (L) and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner (2nd-L) meet with Moroccan King Mohammed VI (R) at the royal palace in Rabat, Morocco, December 22, 2020. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Kushner arrived at the royal palace’s guest house in Rabat to sign a number of bilateral and trilateral agreements on a variety of issues, including visas, water, tourism and agriculture.

They traveled to Morocco aboard the first commercial flight linking Tel Aviv and Rabat, following the normalization of ties between Israel and Morocco announced on December 10.

A congressional aide with ties to the Democratic leadership told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Indonesians should be wary of the proposal weeks ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“If I were the Indonesians, I wouldn’t bank on any promises the administration is making now,” said the aide, who asked not to be named to speak frankly. “The Development Finance Corp. was designed as a development tool, not an incentive for political developments.”

Biden has welcomed the previous agreements, but Democrats have criticized their transactional nature. The UAE is getting stealth fighter jets, Morocco is getting recognition of its occupation of Western Sahara and Sudan is being removed from the US list of stats that back terrorists.

It’s not clear whether Biden will abide by any of these agreements.

Boehler said he believed the Biden administration would support the moves.

“I think they will take what we did and take it further, and I hope they do and I’ll be there to support them,” he said.

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