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Passport Controversy: Has Bangladesh’s Policy Towards Israel Really Changed?

Aizbah KhanWeb Editor

26th May, 2021. 11:26 am
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Passport Controversy: Has Bangladesh's Policy Towards Israel Really Changed?

The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry has clarified that the removal of Israel’s name from the e-passport has not changed Bangladesh’s foreign policy towards Israel.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that an Israeli Foreign Ministry official had welcomed the removal of the travel ban on a Bangladeshi e-passport. However, the ambiguity arose when Bangladesh’s e-passport did not state that the passport could be used to travel to all countries except Israel.

The statement added that the phrase was deleted in order to maintain international standards for e-passports. And that doesn’t mean it has changed Bangladesh’s foreign policy toward the Middle East.

The Foreign Ministry clarified that the ban on travel to Israel through Bangladeshi passports is still in place.

The statement said the Bangladeshi government has not deviated from the country’s long-standing position. And Bangladesh’s previous position on the issue remains the same.

The Foreign Ministry said that the Bangladeshi government condemns the recent Israeli atrocities on the grounds of Al-Aqsa Mosque and in Gaza.

The statement added that Bangladesh considers the creation of two states in accordance with UN resolutions as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which borders states prior to 1967 and includes East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

Bangladesh has not had diplomatic relations with Israel since its secession from Pakistan in 1971 when its passport read in Bengali and English: “This passport was used as a travel document for all countries except Israel.” However, in recent days, the phrase has been changed on e-passport and it is written that this passport is a travel document that can be used for travel to all countries of the world.

The issue was covered in the media after the photos of the new e-passport were shared on social media. One of the news was shared by the Deputy Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Gilad Cohen, who wrote in a tweet, “Great news! Bangladesh has removed the travel ban to Israel. This is a welcome step & I call on the Bangladeshi government to move forward and establish diplomatic ties with Israel so both our peoples could benefit & prosper.”

According to the Dhaka Tribune, Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Kalam Memon said that Bangladesh has no intention of recognizing Israel.

According to the Bangladeshi broadcaster BD24, Bangladesh’s Interior Minister Asadul Zaman Khan said there had been no change in foreign policy.

Referring to the e-passport, he said that the purpose of the change was to make it possible for Bangladesh’s e-passport to meet international standards.

The Home Minister added that no country is using these words anymore. It is not even mentioned in the passports of Arab countries.

It should be noted that the Pakistani passport still has this sentence written on it that this passport is useful for all countries of the world except Israel.

Asad-ul-Zaman Khan said that this change has been made only in e-passport. However, no changes have been made to the Machine Readable Passport (MRP).

Ayub Chaudhry, director-general of Bangladesh’s immigration and passport department, said the change to e-passport was made with the government’s approval.

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