^ here's an article describing relationship between Suharto government and Israel in 1994, a bit outdated but describe well the relationship between Indonesia and Israel during New Order. Diplomatic sources indicate Indonesia was greatly helped by Israel in maintaining our American and British-made warplanes during embargo (1999-2005) which keeps our air fleet afloat. During Gus Dur's presidency, he even unsuccessfully tried to establish open diplomatic relationship with Israel. I think today Indonesia still has many secret ties with Israel.
China and Indonesia Warming Ties With Israel
By Leon T. HadarIt was not a coincidence that the first official visits outside the Middle East that both Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat made, after returning from the Sept. 13 accord-signing ceremony in Washington, were to Beijing and Jakarta. As the world prepares for what most observers believe will be the Pacific Century, both Middle Eastern leaders recognize the growing significance of these two global players in Asia.
China is trying to increase its involvement in the Middle East. In particular, it is interested in playing a role in the Arab/Israeli peace process. This more assertive Chinese Middle East diplomacy is related to Beijing's new international strategy.
First, while during the Cold War the Middle East was dominated by the bipolar competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, the region today seems to revolve around the uni-polar position of the United States. However, the Chinese leaders, who see their country as a rising global superpower, would like to get a piece of the action in the region, even if it means challenging American supremacy.
Indeed, China expects growing political and military tensions with the United States in the coming years, and its strategy is based on developing itself as a diplomatic and military counterweight to the U.S. in the Middle East and in other parts of the Third World.
For their part, Middle Eastern leaders, including both the pro-U.S. Arabs and the Israelis, are concerned over their growing dependence on American power. They seek to diversify their global portfolio, and establishing ties with China is one way of doing that. Playing the "China card," they believe, could provide them with future leverage vis-a-vis Washington.
Secondly, the Chinese expect that the Israel-PLO agreement, followed by Israeli peace accords with Syria and other Arab countries, will produce an investment and trade boom in the region and hope to bid on a large share of the contracts. According to Chinese government figures, the country's trade with the Middle East has reached close to $2.3 billion–and Beijing wants to expand those ties.
Moreover, China's rapid industrialization and economic development is bound to increase its use of energy resources, especially petroleum. While the Chinese search for oil on their own territory, they expect that they will have to increase oil imports. Oil-producing Russia and Indonesia, notwithstanding their geographical proximity, are considered politically unreliable because of their longtime rivalry with China.
As part of its search for new sources of oil, Beijing also is developing a "blue water" navy that could be used to assert its claim to the disputed and potentially oil rich Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. In that context, Chinese leaders hope their expanding relationships in the Middle East will help secure access to Gulf petroleum. Neutralizing Islamic Radicalism
Third, with the eroding power of communism and the rising influence of Islamic groups in Central Asia and the Middle East, China is concerned over the rise of Islamic political tendencies among its own more than 20 million Muslims. It hopes that its ties with the Muslim nations of the Middle East may help to neutralize moves toward Islamic radicalism and separatism in its provinces.
Asia Watch reports that China has suppressed an armed uprising and violent demonstrations in the Muslim Linxia area of Gansu province, and that there has been increasing violence between Muslims and Han Chinese in the southern part of Xinjiang, another area with a large Uighur Muslim population. Last summer, when Muslim groups apparently attacked a hotel in Kashgar, the Xinjiang capital, the Chinese authorities reacted by banning unauthorized religious tracts and tightening up firearms regulations. Kashgar was the location of a recent meeting of Islamist activists from Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Beijing is worried, in particular, about secessionist tendencies among Xinjiang's Uighur Muslims. In 1964, thousands of them fled to the former Soviet Union after Chinese authorities suppressed an attempt to establish an independent state in the area and settled thousands of Han Chinese in the region. Many of the former Uighur Muslim residents now are returning to Xinjiang from Central Asia. Beijing is trying to restrict the flow of returnees into Xinjiang across the border from Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Chinese authorities have asked Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan to help it in those efforts, and have declared they will suppress any separatist activities.
China enjoys excellent ties with the Arab states as well as Israel and Iran. Over the past two years high-level Chinese officials have exchanged visits with leaders of most of these countries. China was one of the first governments to grant diplomatic recognition to the PLO, and it formally recognized Israel in 1992.
Indeed, Beijing's covert and overt ties with Israel are expanding. China has just granted Israel the right to open a consulate in Shanghai, in addition to its embassy in Beijing, and China has indicated its interest in opening a consulate of its own in Jerusalem, in addition to the Chinese embassy in Tel Aviv.
One key player behind the Sino-Israeli Detente is Shaul Eisenberg. This Israeli businessman with wide connections in China, Japan and other Asian countries has built his fortune in the region since World War II. A man of mystery, Eisenberg has helped establish links between Israeli and Chinese arms industries. The two countries have cooperated extensively on military projects and, according to U.S. government sources, Israel has provided sensitive U.S. military technology to the Chinese. At the same time, the Chinese have been accused of selling such military technology to Iran.
The Chinese, aware of the growing opposition on Capitol Hill to the renewal in June of their most-favored-nation (MFN) trading status, count on their connection with Israel to erode some of the criticism of their human rights policies among members of Congress.
Using the relationship with Israel to gain support in Washington also is a key consideration in the surprising decision by Indonesia to move toward establishing ties with Israel. As part of that effort, the Indonesian government hosted Prime Minister Rabin in Jakarta after his visit to China.
Establishing diplomatic ties with Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, would be a major political coup for Israel.
Indonesia's President Suharto is the current chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement and a major figure in the economically powerful Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Strengthening ties with these two organizations has been a long-term Israeli goal. Israel has maintained covert ties for a long time with Indonesia. The Israeli Mossad, under the cover of a business office, maintains a large operation in Jakarta, Indonesian officers have been trained in Israel in anti-terrorist methods, and intelligence agencies of both countries have been exchanging information since the late 1960s.
Two Israeli companies, Alhit and BVR, are competing now for a contract to build a sophisticated training installation for Indonesia's air force on the Island of Sumatra, according to reports published six months ago in Military Technology. Other reports suggest that Israel sold Indonesia 28 U.S.e Skyhawk fighter aircraft in the late 1980s.
Therefore, during the past year, and especially following the signing of the Sept. 13 Israel-PLO accord, Israel has been pressuring Jakarta to move in the direction of some level of formal diplomatic ties. The two countries have already established direct phone and mail service, Israeli businessmen and academics have visited Indonesia, and Indonesian journalists and students made trips to Israel.
A meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas last June, during the U.N. human rights conference in Vienna has been the highest level diplomatic exchange to date between the two countries.
Following that meeting, Israeli Ambassador to Singapore Dany Megido visited Jakarta and met with Indonesian Foreign Ministry officials. One idea raised in the talks was the opening of Protection of Interests offices in Tel Aviv and Jakarta that would operate under the flags of third countries that have diplomatic relations with both countries. Rabin's somewhat low-key visit to Jakarta (Israeli journalists were not permitted to join the prime minister's entourage during the stop in the Indonesian capital) was preceded by an official visit by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. Suharto laid out a head-of-state red carpet for Arafat, and referred to him in a speech as "President of the State of Palestine."
Suharto and Indonesian officials have refrained from giving a full endorsement to the PLO-Israeli accord and are lowering expectations about any major breakthroughs as far as establishing diplomatic ties with Israel are concerned.
However, Indonesia hopes that the rapprochement with Israel will help it with the U.S. Congress, where Indonesia has been accused of human rights violations, especially in the former Portuguese colony of East Timor. Leon T. Hadar, Washington correspondent of the Business Times of Singapore, writes on Middle Eastern and East Asian issues.