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Indonesia health officials visited Israel to discuss COVID-19, amid normalisation talks

Mobile vaccination clinic against the new type of coronavirus (Covid-19) of Israel's Red Shield of David serves Muslims who arrive Masjid Al-Aqsa Mosque for the Friday Prayer in Jerusalem on February 26, 2021 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Mobile vaccination clinic for the coronavirus (Covid-19) in Jerusalem on February 26, 2021 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

A delegation from Indonesia visited Israel in recent days to discuss the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to The Associated Press (AP).

The health officials met with Israeli officials “to learn how to deal with the Covid pandemic,” the report said.

The visit comes amid speculation that the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, which currently has no diplomatic ties with Israel, may be looking to normalise relations, following the US-brokered Abraham Accords which saw normalisation between Israel with Bahrain and the UAE; they were followed by Sudan and Morocco.

However, the Indonesian government denies the visit took place, AP reported.

Israel’s Foreign Minister would not confirm the report but claimed that Israel “believes in international cooperation in every regard to the fight against Covid.”

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US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, visited Indonesia last month, reportedly discussing the possibility of Indonesia normalising ties with Israel, according to an Axios report.

“We are always exploring additional opportunities for normalisation, but we’ll leave those discussions behind closed doors until the right moment,” State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, told Axios. 

Moreover, last year, US officials in the then-outgoing Trump administration told the Times of Israel that Indonesia and Mauritania were close to entering their own normalisation agreements with Israel.

“Mauritania and Indonesia are high on the list, but it changes based upon various circumstances,” a senior US official was quoted as saying.

However a month before, a senior Indonesian MP stressed that his country would never normalise relations with Israel and confirmed claims that the US offered the country $2 billion to do so.

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