Tourists entering Jaffa gate in Jerusalem .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A travel ban on Israeli tourists going to Indonesia, and Indonesian tourists coming to Israel has been lifted as a result of discreet contacts between the two countries through various “international channels,” sources in Jerusalem said on Wednesday.
According to the sources, the restrictions on Indonesian tourists that were to go into effect this week were lifted in parallel with the lifting of the restrictions imposed by Indonesia on the entry of Israeli tourists.
Israel and Indonesia do not have diplomatic relations.
In early May, Indonesia reportedly gave the green light to issue tourist visas for Israelis interested in visiting the world's most populous Muslim country.
Two weeks later – following the escalation of violence along the Gaza border and demonstrations in Jakarta outside the US Embassy there to protest the move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – Indonesia back-peddled and decided to ban the entry of Israelis.
As a result, the Foreign Ministry decided at the end of May to bar Indonesian tourists until further notice.
Despite a lack of diplomatic ties, some 36,000 Indonesian tourists came to Israel in 2017
, a 60% increase from the previous year. Put in context, that was more than the number of tourists who came to Israel last year from any of the Scandinavian countries, and about the same number of tourists who arrived from Belgium.
The majority of Indonesian tourists come to Israel as part of a package that starts in Egypt, includes Bethlehem and Jericho, and concludes in Jordan.
In addition to tourism, Israel in 2016 exported $121 million worth of goods to Indonesia, and imported goods amounting to $43 million from it.
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