According to a report in Israel Hayom, Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world and one which does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, has recently eased up on its policy regarding allowing Israelis to enter the country and plans to continue to move in this direction in the future.

Until two weeks ago, Israelis who wished to visit Indonesia on a private basis could usually only achieve this by using a foreign (i.e. non-Israeli) passport. Israelis who did not have dual nationality were obligated to acquire an expensive business visa which had to be ordered in advance from the relevant Indonesian government office - or to enter Indonesia as part of an organized group made up of at least 15 tourists.

Recently, however, Indonesia has begun permitting Israelis who enter the country as part of a tour group to split off from the group after a few days and continue their visit independently, as long as they are accompanied by an Indonesian tour guide. According to Irit Lahav, a tour guide with the Ayala Geographit touring company and an expert on Indonesia, it is likely that in the coming days restrictions will be further eased significantly, such that couples will be allowed entry to the country and accorded the status of "independent organized tour" as long as they are accompanied by a local guide.

Israel Hayom has also learned of Israelis who succeeded in entering Indonesia with a private entrance permit, not as part of a tour group. All the same, the process for obtaining such a permit remains complicated. The initial application must be made to an international Indonesian representative via the internet (those interviewed contacted Indonesian officials in Singapore or Dubai), and once authorization is granted, the applicant must appear in person before the official in order to pick up the visa.

Indonesia is a country with approximately 275 million inhabitants of whom around 87 percent are Muslim. Although it has no official relations with Israel, it does have informal relations in the areas of trade, technology, and tourism. Indonesia pilgrims, mostly from the country's Christian minority, sometimes visit Israel, and officials also occasionally make visits although usually in secret.

Around three weeks ago, Samuel Taboni, an Indonesian politician from a Christian-majority region in Indonesia, made an open visit to Israel, to the Samaria Regional Council. Taboni was not traveling in an official capacity. He heads the largest tribe in the western part of the Papua region and is likely to become regional governor in the future.