by Abu Hanifah

The call to boycott Israeli products resulted from the recent Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) extraordinary summit held in Indonesia sparked controversy at home as the host nation was still conducting trade with Israel.

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Even though Indonesia has no diplomatic ties with Israel, citing the data released by the trade ministry, Israel was among countries where Indonesia conduct trade relations with.

Indonesia posted decreasing amount of exports from year to year lately, leading to increased imports from that country, according to the bilateral trade balance data of the two nations from the ministry.

The data shows that Indonesia’s trade balance with Israel saw deficit trend on a five-year period basis.

Two-way trade between Indonesia and Israel stood at 194.43 million U.S. dollars last year. Indonesia’s exports to Israel in 2015 was 15.96 percent lesser than 138.87 million U.S. dollars recorded in 2014.

Meanwhile, imports of the country, having the world’s largest Muslim community, from Israel stood at 77.30 million U.S. dollars as of last year, or 456.5 percent higher than 13.89 million U.S. dollars recorded a year earlier.

Indonesia exports various commodities, including palm oil and rubber, to Israel and importing chemical-related products and high technology goods from Israel.

Besides trade, hundreds of Indonesian tourists toured Israel to visit religious sites there.

Responding to questions from the public regarding the call that felt awkward given to the fact that Indonesia was still conducting trade with Israel, an Indonesian presidential spokesperson said the boycott was meant for Israel’s policies in Palestine, not the goods literally.

“It was not meant that way, boycotting the goods. The context was boycotting Israeli policies and its various bans in Palestine,” Johan Budi said.

Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal affairs, has another view to see the boycott.

He said implementation of the boycott must address the interests of Palestinian people as well.

“Boycott was only the spirit. There must be an extra cautious stance to respond to this call. Many of those products were produced by fellow Palestinians. We should not take steps wrongly that would eventually severe our brothers in Palestine,” said the official.

As the host of the fifth OIC Extraordinary Summit discussing Palestine and Jerusalem, President Joko Widodo called on OIC member countries to encourage international community to boycott Israeli products from entering their respective countries.

The Summit that was the first to discuss Palestine and Jerusalem issue was attended by heads of state and senior government figures from 55 OIC members, during which Widodo made bilateral talks with some of those leaders.

The summit was intended to seek breakthrough solution to end Israeli oppression and aggression in Palestine that cost civilians’ lives, support international efforts to see two-state solution in Palestine and the independence of the later country. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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