Bangladesh introduced new ePassports for its citizens, removing the words “except Israel” saying the change was only made to follow “international standards” while the travel ban in that country remained unchanged .
“The changes were made to maintain global standards,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters, but added that this “does not mean that there has been a change in Bangladesh’s position” concerning Israel.
The Foreign Office, in a subsequent statement, said the newly issued passports would also not allow its holders to travel to the only Jewish country in the world, as some media speculate.
“The travel ban for holders of Bangladeshi passports to Israel remains unchanged,” we read.
But the changes to the new Bangladeshi passports immediately drew a response from Tel Aviv which urged Dhaka to establish bilateral diplomatic relations for the “benefit and prosperity” of the people of both countries.
“Good news! Bangladesh has lifted the travel ban on Israel,” Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific Gilad Cohen said in a tweet.
He added, “This is a welcome step and I call on the Bangladeshi government to forge ahead and establish diplomatic relations with Israel so that our two peoples can benefit and prosper. “
But Bangladesh’s foreign ministry said the tweet caught its attention as “the confusion appears to have stemmed from the new e-passport booklets which do not contain the ‘all countries except Israel’ remark.” .
“The removal of the sighting was made to maintain the international standard of Bangladeshi ePassports and does not imply any change in Bangladesh’s foreign policy towards the Middle East,” he said.
the statement said “Bangladesh has not deviated from its position on Israel and Bangladesh remains firm on its long standing position in this regard.”
He reminded everyone that Bangladesh condemned “the recent atrocities inflicted on civilians by the Israeli occupation forces in the compound of the al-Aqsa mosque and in Gaza.”
“Bangladesh reiterates its position of principle regarding the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the light of the UN resolutions recognizing the pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine”, may – read further.
Dhaka does not recognize Israel and has always supported independent Palestine.
Until May of this year, Bangladesh was issuing a passport with a statement that the travel document was “valid for all countries in the world except Israel”, but updated ePassports read ” This passport is valid for all countries of the world ”.
During the past eight decades of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Bangladesh has always vehemently supported the Palestinian cause and has never recognized the existence of Israel while allowing Palestine to set up its embassy in Dhaka as a independent nation.
Israel, however, was one of the first nations to recognize independent Bangladesh in February 1972 after it emerged in 1971 as an independent country following a nine-month war against Pakistan.
Dhaka at that time rejected the recognition saying that this recognition was not acceptable.