Indonesian lawmakers question visa for Israeli badminton player

Indonesian legislators have questioned a decision to grant a visa to an Israeli badminton player to compete in the World Championship this week.

Indonesia initially refused to give a visa to Misha Zilberman to play in Jakarta, but relented following intervention from the World Badminton Federation. Zilberman was eliminated in the first round.

“This is a bad precedent,” a member of the House of Representatives, Ahmad Zainuddin, was quoted as saying by Viva.co.id.

“How could it be that an Israeli managed to obtain a visa, while Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel?” he said. “This has to be explained.”

He said he suspected that the decision was made after pressure from Israel and the international pro-Israel lobby.

“If that’s true, it shows how hollow is our stated principle of supporting Palestinian independence and opposing Israel’s colonization,” Zainuddin said.

BWF said it had assisted Zilberman in his visa quest.

“BWF has worked extremely hard with both local and Israeli stakeholders,” it said in a statement on its webiste.

“However, BWF chose not to engage in a public discussion to avoid any distraction while focusing on a solution, as such public attention could have endangered the ultimate objective – to get Misha Zilberman to play in the World Championships,” it said.

Another lawmaker from the Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party, Mahfudz Siddiq, said he was informed that the Foreign Ministry was not consulted in the decision.

“It shows that there’s no coordination with the immigration department,” he was quoted as saying by inilah.com.

Indonesia has at least twice refused to play Israel in sports tournaments, and excluded the Jewish state from participating in the 1962 Asian Games hosted by Jakarta.

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