Indonesia politician visits Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank: Report

People waving Palestinian flags attend a rally to support Palestinians after Israeli attacks on May 28, 2021, in Depok, West Java province, Indonesia [ Agoes Rudianto - Anadolu Agency ]

An Indonesian politician is currently visiting illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank where he has met local leaders, Israel Hayom newspaper reported.

The paper said Samuel Tabuni, a candidate for the position of governor of the Indonesian province of West Papua, arrived in Israel to visit settlements in the West Bank.

The newspaper pointed out that Tabuni visited settlements in the northern occupied West Bank and met with the head of the Shomron Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, of the Likud party.

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According to the paper, the public visit is a precedent in relations between Israel and Indonesia, "the largest Islamic country in the world" and one which does not have diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv.

The newspaper quoted Dagan as saying that Tabuni's visit is "a blow to the international boycott movement, the hypocrites in Europe and the extreme left in Israel."

He pointed out that officials in Tel Aviv have recently sensed a greater degree of Indonesian openness towards Israel, "even though most of the contacts are currently conducted secretly."

The paper quoted Israeli businessman Haim Berkowitz, who has helped organise Tabuni's visit to the illegal settlements, as saying that Indonesians are particularly interested in benefiting from Israel's technological capabilities.

"However, Indonesia still officially prevents people with Israeli passports from entering its territory," he said, pointing out that the Indonesian authorities have recently shown some flexibility regarding the entry of Israelis and other issues.

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He added that Israeli businessmen and tourists can apply for an entry visa to Indonesia through the Indonesian consulate in Dubai, noting that eventually the applications are accepted, even if the procedures take a long time.

The Indonesian province of West Papua has a Christian majority, while Tabuni leads the largest tribe in the region.