Indonesia rebuffs claims it issues tourist visas for Israelis

Agung Sampurno, a spokesman for the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, clarifies to Arab News that there is no tourist visa specifically for Israelis. (AN photo)
Updated 07 May 2018

Indonesia rebuffs claims it issues tourist visas for Israelis

  • Israeli media had claimed that Israelis can apply for the visa through the “Israel Indonesia Agency” and that “talks are under way to let Israelis get their Indonesia visa in Israel.” 
  • Indonesia says the report was “wrong and misleading” and that the only way for Israeli passport holders to secure an Indonesian visa was through the “calling visa” process. 

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government said it was not issuing tourist visas for Israeli passport holders, debunking a report from an Israeli news outlet which claimed that it was accepting applications for tourist visas from Israelis. 

Agung Sampurno, a spokesman for the immigration department of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, told Arab News that there was no tourist visa specifically for Israelis as Indonesia already has a free-visa policy for nationals from 169 countries to enter the country for tourist or leisure purposes.

Israel is not included on the list since Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

“Our visa policy has not changed in accordance with our foreign policy,” Sampurno said. 

Israeli news portal Haaretz.com reported on Thursday that Israelis could soon see the “gorgeous destinations” that they “could only see in the movies” by applying for a tourist visa to Indonesia beginning on May 1, and the report described the process as “expensive and lengthy.”

According to the report — which did not provide information from the Indonesian authorities — Israelis can apply for the visa through the “Israel Indonesia Agency” and that “talks are under way to let Israelis get their Indonesia visa in Israel.” 

“The news report that said Indonesia was giving out tourist visas to Israel is a hoax,” Sampurno said. 

The agency’s website was still accessible on Friday but was no longer so on Sunday. According to the website, a single-entry visa costs applicants $135, with which they can stay for 30 days, and an extension for another 30 days will cost applicants $35. 

According to the website, “in April 2018, the Ministry of Immigration of the Republic of Indonesia decided to open up a temporary visa quota for Israeli passports to travel to Indonesia under all foreign visa categories to determine the impact and potential of increased bilateral relations between the nations.” 

It also featured pictures of a white sandy beach with turquoise blue water and a destination believed to be Raja Ampat, a cluster of 1,500 jungle-covered small islands known as a divers’ paradise and located on Indonesia’s West Papua province on the eastern part of the country. 

“There is no such ‘Ministry of Immigration’ in Indonesia,” Sampurno said. 

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said the Indonesian government institution in charge of any immigration issue is the Directorate General of Immigration, which is part of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. 

“The Directorate General of Immigration of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia neither recognize nor has relations with Israel Indonesia Agency,” it said.

The statement also said the information in the agency’s website was “wrong and misleading” and that the only way for Israeli passport holders to secure an Indonesian visa was through the “calling visa” process. 

Sampurno said the calling visa mechanism is available for citizens of nations with which Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations. 

The decision to grant a calling visa involves a number of government agencies with the Foreign Ministry at the lead, and the conditions applied to a calling visa holder are very restrictive.

“The visa holder’s whereabouts is limited to a certain place. For example, if the holder stated in the application the place would be in Jakarta, the visa holder can’t go further, even to the suburbs of Jakarta, and the visa holder can only enter Indonesia through Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport,” Sampurno said. 

“There will also be constant monitoring from the authorities to the calling visa holder,” he added.


South Sudan opposition leader returns to meet with president

Updated 19 October 2019

South Sudan opposition leader returns to meet with president

  • Riek Machar last met face-to-face with President Salva Kiir in September, when they discussed outstanding issues in a fragile peace deal
  • The civil war killed almost 400,000 people and displaced millions

JUBA, South Sudan: South Sudan opposition leader Riek Machar returned to the country Saturday to meet with President Salva Kiir less than a month before their deadline to form a unity government after a five-year civil war.
Machar last met face-to-face with Kiir in September, when they discussed outstanding issues in a fragile peace deal. His two-day visit includes a meeting with the US ambassador to the United Nations, who arrives Sunday with a UN Security Council delegation.
The delegation is expected to encourage progress in the peace deal signed a year ago but fraught with delays.
Both Kiir and Machar will meet with the delegation Sunday, government spokesman Michael Makuei said.
The opposition has said Machar won’t return to South Sudan for good to form the government by the Nov. 12 deadline unless security arrangements are in place.
The US has said it will reevaluate its relationship with South Sudan if that deadline is missed.
The civil war killed almost 400,000 people and displaced millions.
Before Machar’s return a unified army of 41,500 opposition and government soldiers needs to be ready along with a 3,000-person VIP protection force.
But so far there are only 1,000 unified soldiers and security arrangements won’t meet the deadline, deputy opposition spokesman Manawa Peter Gatkuoth said.
The previous Machar-Kiir meeting focused on speeding up the screening and reunification of forces, but parties left the talks with differing views.
Deputy chairman for the opposition Henry Odwar called the meeting “lukewarm,” while Makuei called it “highly successful” and said everything was on track for next month’s deadline.