PM Netanyahu and Muslim leader Yahya Cholil Staquf. (Haim Zach/GPO) (Haim Zach/GPO)
PM Netanyahu & Yahya Cholil Staquf

Netanyahu met in Jerusalem with Yahya Cholil Staquf, head of the 60-million-member Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization.

By: United with Israel Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday met with Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary-general of Nahdlatul Ulama, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

The 60-million-member Nahdlatul Ulama is Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization.

Netanyahu told the religious leader that many Muslim countries are getting closer to Israel for various reasons, chiefly security. He noted the common struggle against the Iranian regime and its belligerence in the region as well as the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) terror organization in its various manifestations.

The second reason Muslim countries have been seeking ties with the Jewish state is its world-class technology, the Israeli leader added.

“Israel is the innovation nation, and I’m very happy to see that the Arab countries and many Muslim countries [are] getting closer to Israel,” Netanyahu told Staquf, adding that he is eager for “some movement with Indonesia.”

“I’m very happy to see that Arab countries and many Muslim countries are getting closer to Israel!” Netanyahu tweeted after the meeting.

Netanyahu has previously reached out to Indonesia.

In March 2016, during a meeting with a visiting delegation of Indonesia journalists, Netanyahu said that “the time has come for official relations between Indonesia and Israel.”

Indonesia rejected the overture.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Support for the Palestinians there is strong.

Staquf’s visit to Israel has triggered angry reactions, as seen on Indonesian social media. Braving angry protests at home, he made the trip in order to spread what he calls a message of interfaith compassion.

In a letter to Indonesia’s foreign minister that was published online, Staquf said the government could “deny” his actions if deemed harmful to state interests. “But if there is a ‘benefit,’ let’s follow it up to be a real advantage.”