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Bangladesh lifts travel ban on Israel amid hopes that diplomatic recognition will follow soon

Are Israel-Bangladesh relations taking a turn?

In a major development Bangladesh has lifted the travel ban to Israel, which hopes that Dhaka's move will be followed by the complete normalisation of ties.

Until now, Bangladeshi passport holders were allowed to travel to "all countries of the world, except Israel." Analysts say that Dhaka's move will open the door for forging business and economic ties, based on the Taiwan model. Several countries have a strong business relationship with Taiwan, without full diplomatic recognition, which China objects under its "one-China" policy.

The new passports will have a declaration stating "This passport is valid for all countries of the world.”

Gilad Cohen Israel Foreign Ministry's deputy director general for Asia and the Pacific, in a tweet said, “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.”

According to the Jerusalem Post Cohen highlighted the need for “the two governments to work towards establishing formal ties, as Israel has done with other Muslim countries in the past year such as the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, in normalization deals brokered by the United States.”

However, Dhaka Tribune reported that the country’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said that the decision to remove such restrictions was taken for maintaining international standards of granting passports.

The report added Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that such a step does not point out the government's shift from its existing foreign policy.

The South Asian country is among the 28 members of the United Nations that has refused to recognize Israel. During the recent conflict in Gaza, it slammed Israel for the violence.

An AP report said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for stronger global action to stop Israeli violence against Palestinians.

“In a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Hasina said the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem was a severe violation of human rights and international law,” the news agency said.

Observers point out that Bangladesh may have to take baby steps towards normalisation of ties with Israel, given the influence of radical Islam in the country, and a general public sentiment of empathy towards the Palestinian cause.