Indonesia’s threats over Scott Morrison’s Israel embassy remarks now out in the open
Indonesia’s threats this week over whether bilateral relations with Australia will be damaged by the Israel embassy row have been either implied or leaked.
Now those threats are out in the open.
Indonesia’s official spokesman for Foreign Affairs, Arrmanatha Nashir, would not say exactly what areas of policy would be affected, but he left Australia in no doubt there would be an impact.
“What I can assure you is that the issue of Palestine is very important to Indonesia and the Indonesian people,” he said.
“Of course we will adjust our policy or our actions depending on the situation, but again I’ll not even try to predict or decide what actions we will take.”
In diplomatic terms, that is strong language.
Perhaps not as blunt as the reported text message exchange between Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and her Australian counterpart Marise Payne, in which Ms Payne was purportedly told the embassy issue, “will slap Indonesia’s face” and, “will affect bilateral relations”.
That report, first aired on Channel Seven, earned Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia Gary Quinlan his second summons in three days to “please explain” to the Indonesian Foreign Minister.
A senior source told the ABC this week Indonesia was considering suspending the final stages of negotiation on the much-anticipated trade deal with Australia.
That has since been denied by the Indonesian Trade Minister.
But now Indonesia’s future military cooperation with Australia has become an open question.
In response to the ABC’s questions about the Israel embassy issue, spokesman for Indonesia’s Ministry of Defence, Brigadier General Totok Sugiharto, replied via text.
“For the time being the defence, cooperation commitment will continue,” he said.
For the time being.
“It will be a subject for review in the future whether or not this cooperation is beneficial to both parties,” he said.
That’s being seen as a another diplomatic shot across the bow.
And at a time when Australia is increasingly relying on cooperation with its neighbours to push back against China’s military expansion in the region, it’s a shot likely to make a big splash.