Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 26 May: Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday warned of legal action according to the country’s immigration law if anyone tries to go to Israel from Bangladesh as it still does not recognise the country.
The minister made the remarks after handing over medical equipment for the people of Palestine to its ambassador in Bangladesh Yousef SY Ramadan at the state guest house Padma on Wednesday morning.
“We remain very strong on the legal ground and everybody knows it. Immigration controls these things. They have been doing it for years. Our immigration authority will immediately stop anyone who tries to go against the law,” he said.
“No Bangladeshi can visit Israel because we do not recognise Israel. If anyone goes there, the person will be liable to be prosecuted,” he added.
The minister reiterated that Bangladesh has not changed its position towards Israel at all; therefore no one from Bangladesh can visit Israel.
The foreign minister said, “Passport is an identity and it does not relate anything with the foreign policy. The relation between Bangladesh and Palestine is as strong as before. Bangladesh will continue working for the people of Palestine. We have a very strong position on an independent and sovereign state of Palestine.”
The first page of the passport issued by Bangladesh since independence used to read every Bangladeshi passport had a common provision mentioned on its first page saying “This Passport Is Valid for All Countries of The World except Israel”.
Recently, the government has removed the words ‘except Israel’ from the passport.
“There is some media controversy over the issue. It is very unfortunate. Because, we do not recognise Israel, we never recognised. We firmly believe in a two-state solution. We never changed our policy,” said Dr Momen.
Earlier on 23 May, the Palestinian Ambassador in Dhaka, Yousef SY Ramadan, described the omission of the words ‘except Israel’ from the Bangladeshi passport unacceptable.
However, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen expressed dissatisfaction over the Palestinian Ambassador’s statement on Tuesday.
“Bangladesh will take its decision itself. What other countries say is completely irrelevant,” said the minister, responding to a query from reporters after a programme at the Foreign Service Academy.
He said, “Whatever is said by an ambassador of another country is irrelevant to us. We maintain our foreign policy. We would have been in trouble if we paid heed to what others say.”
According to the Foreign Minister, there will be more donations as Bangladesh handed over medicine worth Tk40 lakh on Wednesday.
The medicines have been provided by Beacon Pharmaceuticals. These will be sent to Palestine via Jordan.
“It (more donations) has been approved. We will send that soon. The Prime Minister will provide $50,000 for the people of Palestine,” Dr Momen said.
The Palestinian Ambassador thanked the government of Bangladesh for expressing solidarity and support. “People in Palestine appreciate your help, support and donation very much.”
Asked how much money the people of Bangladesh have donated so far during the ongoing crisis, the Palestinian ambassador said, “People are giving money to the bank accounts and bkash numbers that we have provided. We have not calculated yet. We will inform it later.”
Among others, Mohammad Ebadul Karim, MP, managing director of Beacon Pharmaceuticals, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen were present at the event.