Bali and Middle Java Reject Israel National Team in FIFA U-20 World Cup, Jakarta - Two Indonesian governors openly reject the presence of the Israel national football team in their regions. Indonesia has been preparing to be the host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Israel is one of the participants.

Israel's occupation in Palestine often incurs public vehemence in Indonesia where Islam is the religion of majority.

One of the governors who rejects Israel is Governor I Wayan Koster of Bali. His rejection is quite surprising since Bali is not a Muslim-majority area and often very welcoming for the Western visitors.

In a letter to the Ministry of Sports, the governor asks the ministry to "forbid the team from the state of Israel to join the match in Bali Province".

"We, the government of Bali province, affirm to reject the participation of the team of the state of Israel to have a match in Bali Province," wrote Governor Koster.

Koster further argues that the rejection is important in relation to Indonesian diplomatic relations with other countries. Currently, Indonesia does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel.

Not long after Bali's rejection, Governor Ganjar Pranowo of Middle Java also firmly rejected the Israel team to play in his province. The governor says the first President Soekarno gave the mandate to support Palestine which is under Israel's occupation. 

Both Governor Ganjar and Governor Koster are from the ruling party Indonesian Democratic Party Struggle (PDI-P). 

"As a cadre of PDI Perjuangan, I hold firmly the message of Bung Karno to keep supporting Palestine as voiced during the Asia-Africa Conference, Non-Bloc Movement, and Conference of the New Emerging Force," said Ganjar. 

"Bung" is a friendly honorific to address a fellow. Soekarno was often addressed with "bung".

Ganjar also pointed out the controversy in Israel's government which rejected the existence of Palestine. The statement came from the Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. Several governments, including Indonesia and the United States, have criticized Smotrich's rhetoric.

"Thus, important for us to voice out our support the struggle for Palestine's independence," said Ganjar Pranowo. He also hopes the tournament can go on without Israel.


2 dari 2 halaman

Palestine Between Indonesia and Israel

The Ambassador of Palestine, Zuhair Al-Shun, expresses trust to Indonesia in the midst of Israel national team's controversy. He stated that Palestine will not intervene with Indonesia's decision.

"The authority belongs to Indonesia. We will neither accept nor reject it because it's up to Indonesia," said Ambassador Al-Shun during a press briefing last week.

However, he gave assurance that regardless of Indonesia's decision about Israel's participation, Palestine will not change its trust toward the country. 

The ambassador asked the public to separate between politics and sports. He also appreciated the Indonesian government's international stance to support Palestinian cause. 

Secret Talk and Open Hope

But in the last two years, there was a rumor of possible diplomatic establishment between Indonesia and Israel. 

In 2022, The Times of Israel reported that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid expressed the hope for diplomatic ties with Indonesia, although no imminent deal. Previously in 2021, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto was also seen to interact with an Israeli envoy.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Indonesia denied the rumor of establishing the diplomatic relations with Israel. 

The Ambassador of Palestine said that Israel wanted to join international tournaments like the U-20 World Cup to boost diplomatic normalizations. 

"But we are not afraid of it. We truly believe Indonesia's policy," said the ambassador.


Ahmad Apriyono, Benedikta Miranti T.V., and Jonathan Pandapotan Purba contributed to this report.

* Fakta atau Hoaks? Untuk mengetahui kebenaran informasi yang beredar, silakan WhatsApp ke nomor Cek Fakta 0811 9787 670 hanya dengan ketik kata kunci yang diinginkan.