Israel’s foreign ministry confirms mutual lifting of travel ban with Indonesia

The Dome of Rock in Jerusalem. Photo: Pixabay

Although Indonesia and Israel have no formal diplomatic ties, Indonesian tourists (mostly those going for religious pilgrimages) are a surprisingly a valuable source of income for Israel.

However, Israel last month banned Indonesian tourists from entering the country in response to the latter’s own ban on Israeli tourists entering Indonesia. The archipelago nation specifically issued a moratorium on visas for Israelis on group tours to Indonesia over the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians caused by clashes between the Israeli military and the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

But there’s good news for tourists from both countries. A quiet resolution on the matter seems to have been reached, as confirmed by Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Emmmanuel Nahshon.

“Visa restrictions on Indonesian tourism to Israel were lifted, in parallel to lifting of restrictions by Indonesia on Israeli tourists. Good news,” Nahshon said, as quoted by Times of Israel.

However, it must be noted that the Indonesian government has not officially confirmed the lifting of the travel ban.

As reported by Israeli publication Haaretz earlier this month, Israel banning Indonesian tourists would lead to “insufferable losses” for the Jewish nation. An estimated 30,000 Indonesian pilgrims visit Israel each year, and tour operators — some of which specialize in providing service for Indonesian tourists — urged the Israeli government to rescind the ban as soon as it was passed for economic reasons.

Even without the ban in place, due to the lack of diplomatic ties between the two countries, obtaining visas either way is relatively difficult. Israelis wishing to enter Indonesia must obtain a special dispensation, aka a “Calling Visa”, from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and Immigration. Indonesians, particularly Christians wishing to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, reportedly have it relatively easier in terms of obtaining a visa to Israel, with tour operators in both countries ready to facilitate the application process.  

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