Bangladesh passports will no longer bear the text "valid for all countries of the world except Israel," essentially lifting a decades-long travel ban, officials have confirmed.
The ban's removal was celebrated in a tweet by Gilad Cohen, the Israeli Foreign Ministry's deputy director-general for Asia and the Pacific, who shared photos showing the first pages of the old version of a Bangladeshi passport and a new one without the caveat.
Great news! #Bangladesh has removed 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.@IsraelMFA #IsraelLooksEast https://t.co/LbOLbm9dfG
— Gilad Cohen 🇮🇱 (@GiladCohen_) May 22, 2021
He said that it was "a welcome step" and called on Dhaka to "move forward and establish diplomatic ties with Israel."
However, Dhaka rejected the plans.
"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 Bangladesh remains firm on its longstanding position in this regard," the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal explained that the text singling out Israel was being made in order to comply with "international standards," insisting that "our foreign policy has not changed," Bangladesh news website BDNews24 reported.
"No country uses the words anymore, not even the Arab nations," he explained, adding that a "visa is required to travel to any country."
The ministry also condemned attacks by Israeli occupation forces on Palestinians at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and recent Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, which killed over 270 Palestinians, including 67 children.
"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," it added.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Ambassador in Dhaka Yousef S.Y. Ramadan told local media yesterday that the omission of the words – except Israel – from Bangladeshi passports is "unacceptable".
"I'm aware of the development. Every country has the sovereign right to make decisions on passports or any other issues. Having admitted that, I would say this decision is unacceptable to us," Ramadan added.
From now on, the new electronic passports or e-passports will state: "This passport is valid for all countries of the world."