The Indonesian government said Sunday 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 Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, said 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 change 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 underway 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 diver’s paradise and located on West Papua province on the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago.
“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 issues 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 Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia neither recognize nor has relations with Israel Indonesia Agency.”
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 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.
The story was first published in Arab News