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Bangladesh drops 'except Israel' from passport, but keeps travel ban: Foreign Ministry

ANI | Updated: May 24, 2021 01:34 IST

Dhaka [Bangladesh], May 23 (ANI): Bangladesh has announced that its passports will no longer bear the text "valid for all countries of the world except Israel," a move that was thought to have aimed at lifting a decades-long travel ban.
However, the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made it clear that the holders of Bangladeshi passports are still banned from travelling to Israel, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
This decision comes after 11-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian which claimed many lives and left several injured.
"Irrespective of new e-passports, Bangladesh did not change its position on Israel including the travel ban. Bangladesh condemned atrocities to Palestinians, and reiterates its principled position concerning the two-state solution of Palestine-Israel conflict in light of UN resolutions," Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted.
"The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently been drawn to a tweet issued from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel that welcomes the removal of the ban on travel to Israel on E-passports issued by Bangladesh," Dhaka Tribune quoted a press release issued by the Foreign Ministry.
The confusion appears to have emanated from the new booklets of E-passports, which do not contain the phrase "all countries excepting Israel," the press release said.
"The ban on travel of Bangladeshi passport holders to Israel remains unchanged. The Government of Bangladesh has not deviated from its position on Israel and remains firm in its longstanding position in this regard," the release said.
The Bangladesh government has condemned the recent atrocities inflicted upon civilians by the occupation forces of Israel at the al-Aqsa mosque compound and in Gaza, it added.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday said there has been no change in Bangladesh's position towards Israel as it still does not recognise Israel.
Passport is a national identity and it does not reflect foreign policy, said the foreign minister.
The decision to change the declaration was taken more than a year ago, and it is now being implemented, according to Department of Immigration and Passports Director General Mohammad Ayub Chowdhury.
"Passports only carry important information pertaining to the holder. That applies to immigration in all countries of the world. Nothing is more important than that," Chowdhury said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Ambassador in Dhaka Yousef SY Ramadan has said the omission of the words "except Israel" from Bangladeshi passport is unacceptable.
He had requested meetings with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and Ambassador-at-Large Mohammad Ziauddin for a clarification on the issue.
"I am aware of the development. Every country has the sovereign right to take decisions on passports or any other issues. Having admitted that, I would say this decision is unacceptable to us," said the ambassador.
"The decision of the government of Bangladesh has come days after the latest Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians and I don't think it is in line with the principles Bangladesh pursues when it comes to the Palestinians," he said.
"I have requested meetings with the home minister and the ambassador-at-large for the clarification. Let's see what they have to say," he added. (ANI)