‘Palestine wants to invest in Bangladesh’
Syed Zainul Abedin Eiffel

Yousef SY Ramadan, head of the Palestinian mission in Dhaka, spoke to the Dhaka Tribune’s Syed Zainul Abedin Eiffel ahead of President Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to Bangladesh

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    Photo- MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

What is the first and foremost issue to be discussed with the Bangladesh government during the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas?

Different issues will be discussed. First of all, the main purpose of this visit is to enhance the relation that has existed between our countries and our peoples since 1971. This is the most important issue. There are other issues too. The prime minister and the president and of Bangladesh will be informed about the present situation – what is going on in Palestine and in the region as a whole. The second issue is how can we develop this relation, not just politically but to extend investment in agriculture and other sectors. Regional issues will also be discussed. Last year, the two countries signed a MoU related to fuel oil, edible oil and such. We are able to supply these for Bangladesh. We would also like to invest in the Bangladeshi energy sector by inviting some Palestinian companies because we know that Bangladesh is very keen to develop the sector.

Where does the MoU stand now?

The MoU was signed last year on December 11 between the Foreign Minister of Palestine Riad NA Malki and the Power and Energy Minister Nasrul Hamid. We would like to implement this agreement as soon as possible. So there will be a discussion on this issue. Later our experts will also come here to discuss it in detail.

Do you hope that it will be effective by this year?

We hope and we believe it will definitely be so.

With Donald Trump in power, what do you think are the new challenges you may face in the future?

Whoever comes to power in the United States, whoever enters the White House, they will continue to have a special, strategic and strong relation and support Israel for many reasons. And that has been going on since 1948, since Israel occupied Palestine and established a state. So whoever comes to power, will continue to do the same. So for us, Trump, or anyone else are almost the same. Never, ever has any American administration acted in a just manner with Palestine. And that is why the peace process has made no progress. So we want them to be fair, to stop Israel from building settlements, from confiscating more lands from Palestine and from killing innocent Palestinians. And I feel that these are fair and humanitarian demands.

What role are OIC and NAM playing in resolving this situation?

OIC and NAM are supporting Palestine. But how powerful are they? Are they capable of resolving the issue? But their support is very important. The world's support is important. The issue is not in the hands of OIC. Unfortunately the issue is in the hands of a country’s administration that is not acting fairly. But the most important part is the unity of the Muslim countries. Because from united countries, we can get good, practical support that can be important to resolve this issue.

Is the BDS (Boycott, Disinvest and Sanction) movement against Israel helping Palestine?

It is getting very effective. Especially last year, the movement resulted in many students from the United States, Great Britain and many other European countries boycotting Israeli universities. All products made in the settlements have been labeled to avoid buying them. Such a movement, even it is not a gentleman’s activity, is very effective. Because, it is the people, the consumer – who make the decision, not the leaders.

What else do you want to tell us about the visit of Mahmoud Abbas?

This visit will be extraordinary. The government has an extraordinary preparation regarding this visit. The president is very keen to enhance bilateral ties, which are already strong and fruitful. It will not be his last visit. He will continue to visit Bangladesh in the future. We are very happy and hopeful for a successful visit. 

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