‘Explosion of peace’: Trump administration attempts to lure Indonesia into recognizing Israel with $2bn in aid

President Donald Trump is rushing to ‘Make Israel Great Again’ in his last days in office, dangling as much as $2 billion in aid in front of Indonesia if the majority-Muslim nation just recognizes the country.

The US International Development Finance Corporation has revealed it is willing to throw an extra $1 or $2 billion in aid at Indonesia if the world’s largest Muslim country follows in the footsteps of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates and recognizes Israel diplomatically.

We’re talking to them about it,” DFC CEO Adam Boehler told local media on Monday, adding that “if they’re ready… we’ll be happy to even support more financially than what we do.” The lure of “one or two more billion dollars” is no doubt a powerful one in a nation which – like many others – is wallowing in recession in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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An Israeli cabinet minister appeared to confirm the negotiations to Reuters on Wednesday, noting that Tel Aviv was working on formalizing relations with “a fifth Muslim country, possibly in Asia.”

However, Indonesia stated last week it would not recognize Israel until Palestinian statehood was granted, and largely-Muslim Malaysia has similarly declared its “firm stance on the Palestinian issue will not change.

Oman, neighbor to the UAE, has also been suggested as the next Muslim nation that might recognize Israel. However, it has made no public comment on whether it plans to do so. The US has hinted it wants Saudi Arabia to follow in its neighbors’ footsteps as well. 

The Trump administration has used financial and diplomatic carrots rather than military sticks to encourage the UAE, Morocco, Sudan, and Bahrain to recognize Israel this year. Sudan was removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, while Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara territory was recognized by the US and the UAE got access to coveted F-35 fighter jets.

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The president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner heralded the diplomatic coups in his typically self-congratulatory style, noting that while critics had warned Trump there would be an “explosion in the Middle East” if he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, there had instead been “an explosion of peace.” Over 100 Palestinian civilians have reportedly been killed since the US declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel in 2017, and Israel and Gaza have traded rocket fire and bombs extensively since then.

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