Israel travel ban taken out of Bangladesh passports

Israel travel ban taken out of Bangladesh passports
Bangladesh dropped the clause barring travel to Israel when it introduced its new e-passport in January.
2 min read
28 May, 2021
Dhaka did not declare the omission when it rolled out its new e-passport in January [ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images]

Bangladesh has omitted a provision barring Bangladeshi citizens from traveling to Israel from its new e-passports, Al Jazeera has reported.

Dhaka had previously issued passports containing the message, "This passport is valid for all the countries of the world except Israel."

In January this year, Bangladesh dropped this when it adopted the e-passport, which can be electronically scanned.

Dhaka did not announce the omission. Public attention was drawn to it when an Israeli official commented on it online.

A senior figure in the Israeli foreign ministry's Asian and Pacific affairs, Gilad Cohen, shared an article about the news on Twitter.

Deputy Director General Cohen said it was "[g]reat news" and " a welcome step

"I call on the Bangladeshi government to move forward and establish diplomatic ties with #Israel," he tweeted

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But Bangladesh's Minister of Foreign Affairs, AK Abdul Momen rejected the idea that Bangladesh had changed its position on Israel.  

"No one from Bangladesh can visit Israel", he said in statement to he media, threating "legal action" against violators.

He told journalists the update sought to "maintain international standard", without elaborating.

He argued that the "[p]assport is just an identity and it doesn’t reflect the foreign policy of a country."

"The foreign policy of Bangladesh remains the same as it was during [its first prime minister's] time."

He continued: "We don't recognise Israel".

Bangladeshi law has no provisions banning visits to the Jewish state, according to Al Jazeera.

Unnamed immigration officials have said that Dhaka's citizens can reach Israel via another nation, providing they acquire a visa.

Md Touhid Hossain, an ex-foreign minister for the People's Republic, said he felt there wouldn’t be "any trouble visiting" Israel for those with an e-passport and a visa.

News of the update to Bangladesh's passport comes despite the recently Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza, which killed over 250 people, including 66 children.