Relationship Between Palestine and Bangladesh

The relationship between Bangladesh and Palestine, particularly Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), can be traced as far back fight for liberation in 1971. While at first, most states were hesitant to recognize the newly-established state- Bangladesh. But relations quickly warmed in 1973 when Bangladesh supported Palestinians’ fight against Israel during the October War, including sending a medical team and relief supplies for Palestinians. Relations between Bangladesh and Palestine are considered to be one o the most brotherly and cordial as Bangladesh always advocates for an independent Palestinian state and firmly against Israeli occupation. Bangladesh has always called for an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Bangladesh has a complete ban on trade (indirect and direct) with Israel, as Bangladesh does not have any diplomatic relations with Israel.

Bangladesh is one of the 137 countries to recognize Palestine as a state since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence on November 15, 1988. The first high-level meeting between the two countries took place in 1974 at the second OIC summit between Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Yassir Arafat. Since then there have been 13 high level visits of Yassir Arafat to Bangladesh in 1981 and 1987.

A relationship with the PLO was established around that time period, in which Bangladesh allowed the opening of a PLO office in the capital, Dhaka, and PLO officials were frequent guests at events hosted by the Bangladeshi political and diplomatic corps.

The affinity with Palestine became so strong and so entrenched within the Bangladeshi society that in 1980 a postal stamp was created depicting a Palestinian freedom fighter, the al-Aqsa mosque in the background shrouded by barbwire, and words that saluted Palestinian freedom fighters as “Valiant” in English and Arabic.

According to a September 1988 US Library of Congress report, the Bangladeshi government reported in 1987 that – 8,000 Bangladeshi youths had volunteered to fight for the Palestine Liberation Organization. The announcement that came after Yassir Arafat visited the country that year and received a warm welcome from media and political circles and people across the country.

Since the 1980s, under IMET (International Military Education and Training) there has been development of military ties between the PLO and Bangladesh with the former attending one year courses at the Bangladesh Military Academy in Chittagong. Palestine is represented in Bangladesh by the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Dhaka.