Inclusion of ‘except Israel’ preferred, envoy says
Palestinian Ambassador to Bangladesh Yousef SY Ramadan has welcomed Bangladesh’s clarification on the Israel issue, noting that it is "politically good enough" but the country would be happier to see the words “except Israel” in Bangladesh e-passports.
“Politically this (Bangladesh's clarification) is good enough for me,” he said on Monday while thanking Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, who explained the situation and clarified that Bangladesh’s foreign policy on Israel had remained unchanged and citizens are still not allowed to travel there.
While talking to a small group of journalists at the Embassy, the Palestinian Ambassador appreciated the generosity of Bangladeshis, including expatriate Bangladeshis in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.
“You have such an amazing principle. We do not compare you with anyone. I am saying that from my heart. It is not lip service. It is true. You are magnificent people. We will never forget your support, solidarity and principled attitude,” he said.
The ambassador, however, said they sincerely hope that Bangladesh will revise their decision and keep the phrase “except Israel” in the passport, because this also represents very good support to the people of Palestine.
“I didn’t receive this news, frankly speaking, with happiness or with joy. I was sad to receive the news,” said Ambassador Ramadan, adding: “because at least the blood of our children is not dried yet."
The envoy said they can only request the government to revise the decision and they hope Bangladesh will do so.
“It is unacceptable, it is obviously unacceptable. It cannot be acceptable for us. But, Bangladesh is a sovereign State and that we respect. Since you have asked about my feeling and the majority of the Palestinian people, I’m being frank with you about my feeling that is unacceptable,” he told one of the questioners.
A government official said he is "surprised to see such comments from the ambassador [unacceptable] even though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen himself clarified the matter on Israel and the passport issue on Sunday.
Ambassador Ramadan said the change in passport was received by Israel like it was a reward in a way.
“And they have tweeted, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) tweeted as you all know, the next step for Bangladesh, they wish, will be diplomatic relations. That is why it didn’t send a clear message to Israel, the wrong message was sent to Israel after the incident, after the crime was committed, after the atrocity, and after we faced this suffering. It was not the right time at all, and I believe it should have been [done] later on,” he added.
Foreign Minister Dr Momen on Sunday told UNB that there has been no change in Bangladesh's position towards Israel as it still does not recognise Israel.
He said removing the words in the new passport does not mean that there has been a change in Bangladesh’s position.
The ban on travel for Bangladeshi passport holders to Israel remains unchanged.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the confusion appears to have emanated from the new booklets of E-passports, which do not contain the observation “all countries except Israel”.
The removal of the observation has been done to maintain international standards of Bangladeshi e-passports and does not imply any change of Bangladesh’s foreign policy towards the Middle East, the ministry said in a statement.
The Government of Bangladesh has condemned the recent atrocities inflicted upon the civilians by the occupation forces of Israel in al-Aqsa mosque compound and at Gaza.
Bangladesh reiterates its principled position concerning the two-State Solution of the Palestine-Israel conflict in light of the UN resolutions recognising pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, said the statement.