Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly has confirmed that Indonesian immigration authorities denied granting visas to 53 Israeli nationals who intended to enter Indonesia. “In the past few days, there were 53 Israeli nationals who were denied visas, it is true,” Yasonna said at the Foreign Ministry on Friday.
Yasonna refused to mention the reason behind the move. “It is sensitive,” he said. “However it is our prerogative as a state to accept or refuse the visa of another country’s citizen,” he said. Previously, it was reported that the Israeli government would bar Indonesian tourists from entering Israel beginning June 9.. A travel agency said a circular on the policy dated May 29 was distributed from Israel’s Interior Ministry.
Israel media said the ban on Indonesians was an act of “retaliation” to the banning of Israelis to Indonesia. Indonesia and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations. However, Indonesian tourists can obtain a special visa for religious pilgrimage in Israel.
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said Thursday she respected Israel’s decision and denied that the ban was politically motivated, according to tempo.co. The ministry previously said that due to the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries, it was difficult for Israeli passport holders to obtain a visa.
Israelis can apply for a visa through a “calling visa” mechanism that is overseen by the Foreign Ministry and related agencies, such as the Immigration Directorate General.