Distinguished Professor Dr. Ali Riaz has been quoted by German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) and Qatar-based Aljazeera English in reports about the Bangladesh-Israel relationship.

Recently, the Bangladesh government has dropped the “except Israel” clause from its new passport. It has fueled speculation that it is a precursor to establishment of a diplomatic relationship. Bangladesh is yet to recognize Israel. The Bangladesh government denied any such move. Riaz told Aljazeera that the change was not just a simple omission but “a deliberate choice” made by the Bangladesh government.

“The rationale provided by the government that it was to make it consistent with international standard is very weak at its best, unacceptable at its worst,” Riaz said. He said a decision of this magnitude could not have been made without considering its implications.

“I don’t think the Bangladeshi foreign ministry is so naïve,” he said, adding that the question was whether this was done to signal a policy shift or as a result of being influenced by a global or regional power.

Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, M A Momen, later insisted that Bangladeshis will not be allowed to visit Israel and will be prosecuted for any visit.

Riaz, speaking to the DW, said, “a person who can secure a visa to visit Israel cannot be stopped or prosecuted for a trip.”

“There is no known law that will preclude one to visit,” Riaz said. “However, whether the government uses other laws to prosecute and deter people from traveling to Israel is a different matter altogether.”