Bdnews24.com’s own Inside Out, Palestinian Ambassador to Dhaka Yusuf SY Ramadan.
Yusuf SY Ramadan, the country’s ambassador in Dhaka, has put Bangladesh’s position ahead of all other Muslim and Arab countries in favor of the independent-sovereign country of the Palestinians.
Joining bdnews24.com’s special program Inside Out on Sunday, he said, “If the Muslim and Arab world had done what Bangladesh has done, then we would have got our state long ago.”
The event was broadcast live on bdnews24.com’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
The Ambassador of Palestine said, “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke clearly, judiciously and courageously on behalf of Palestine at the special conference of the OIC.
“He asked the Muslim and Arab countries to stand united with the people of Palestine. If everyone spoke the same, the 57 leaders spoke the same language, we wouldn’t have any problems.”
Ramadan is overwhelmed by the cooperation that the people of Bangladesh have extended. He said, “Can you imagine, a man coming from his village, maybe traveling 5-6 hours to express his condolences, donate five hundred rupees…
“You know what that means to me? It means, I am not alone; One who is four thousand miles away from my home is helping me and he is coming to me from his village home to give five hundred or one thousand rupees. I know, if he had more, he would have given it to me.”
“It is worth a lot,” he said, “I cannot compare such grace with anything.” I will take it to my grave that the people of Bangladesh have done honorable, noble and heroic deeds for Palestine.”
Ambassador Ramadan said, “Not only do they want to pay their money, but they are ready to sacrifice their lives for Palestine. The emails I get, I see young people wanting to go there and fight.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made a strong statement in favor of an independent Palestinian state.
He also mentioned seeing Bangladeshis fighting with Fatah movement fighters in South Lebanon. Said, “The first group went from Bangladesh in 1974 to fight for the Palestinian people. This is Bangladesh and this is the people of Bangladesh.”
‘Situation of Hell in Palestine’
In the face of Israel’s attack, how is the situation in Gaza now, the Palestinian ambassador said, “It can be described in one word – it is living in hell.” It is literally hell. It is a situation that cannot be described in words.
“They go to sleep with their loved ones at night, but they don’t know if they will wake up in the morning or not. Those who are lucky, they wake up. And those who are unlucky either lose a part of the family or the whole family.”
He said, “They have to live with the scarcity of basic commodities such as food, water, medicine and fuel in the midst of F-Sixteen warplanes flying overhead, incessant bombardment and artillery fire.
“The people of northern Gaza have to calculate how much food they will eat. They have to be very careful. Because it is not in the market now. As a result, they have to make sure that the food they have in the house is not enough to satisfy their hunger, but to eat full.”
He also said that usually the food is fed to the children and the parents or the elderly have to pass the day by eating only a couple of dates or a piece of bread.
Citing the World Health Organization about more than 6,000 children suffering from diarrhea and fever, he said, “The worry is that the disease will spread. It can be more lethal than assault.
“We are really concerned about this. No medicine, no enough food, no drinking water. Their fear, despair is indescribable.”
‘Netanyahu trying to save his own skin’
Ambassador Ramadan believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is showing “arrogance” even though a ceasefire is now the most important thing to prevent the death and destruction of innocent civilians in Gaza.
He said, “The most important thing is to stop killing, to stop genocide. The second priority is to provide access to food, medicine, drinking water and fuel for the people inside Gaza. Necessary things, which people need for daily living.”
Asked what the chances of a ceasefire are, he said, “I heard that there is an indirect negotiation going on in Doha that the resistance fighters in Gaza will release some civilian hostages, in return they will receive a temporary ceasefire and be given the opportunity to send humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.”
In a question about Netanyahu’s refusal to agree to the ceasefire proposal, Yusuf Ramadan said, “He is saying this because of arrogance. Benjamin Netanyahu is just trying to save his skin.
“Because what happened on October 7th completely destroyed the political future of Benjamin Netanyahu and his government. So they know that they no longer have the chance to run the country. They could not provide security to their people, so they had to leave. That’s for sure. As we have seen, the majority of Israelis now do not want Benjamin Netanyahu to rule the country.
Israel’s attack has turned Palestine’s Gaza Strip into rubble.
“That is why killing as much as possible, destroying as much as possible and trying to come to the people and say, ‘I have brought you security and stability that no one has brought in the past.’ I believe he will fail. I am 100% sure he will fail.”
‘Palestinians can never return if they leave their homes’
The country’s ambassador pointed out that there are historical reasons why Palestinians are leaving their homes despite the constant bombing and destruction by the Israeli forces.
He said, “In general, where there is war in the world, people leave voluntarily. They do not wait for the killer or the enemy to tell them to leave. But the Palestinians have a special situation.
Demonstrations in favor of an independent Palestine are taking place in the country against Israel’s attack on Gaza.
“In 1948 we had a similar incident, which we now call a disaster. Nine and a half million people were displaced from Palestine, my father was one of them, and they are still living as refugees.”
He said, “Without our home means never coming back. I left home in 1948, never to return. So we have such a complicated situation. For this reason, we do not want a disaster like 1948 to happen in 2023. That is the main reason why most of the Palestinian people do not leave their homes.”
He said that due to constant bombings, inability to provide children with essential items such as food, water and medicine, Palestinians are being forced to leave northern Gaza and move towards the south.
Why did the Oslo Accords fail?
Ambassador Ramadan believes that although there was a peace agreement with Palestine in the 90s of the last century, it was not implemented because of the extremists of Israel.
He said, “We recognized Israel, Yasser Arafat did, and Israel recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). We signed the Oslo Accords at the White House in September 1993. We were told that within five years you will have a state.
In 1993, the US-brokered Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine called for a two-state solution. But he ventured and failed.
“But what happened was, two years later they killed the Israeli Prime Minister, Isaac Rabin, who signed the agreement. Who killed him? They killed him themselves. The extremists after the incitement of Benjamin Netanyahu… he was in the opposition at the time.
“A man shot him dead and then they said, ‘This man is crazy and unbalanced’. He died, I think, peace died with him, the whole process died.”
Despite the efforts of President Bill Clinton’s administration, after Rabin’s death, the United States unfortunately adopted a ‘two-state policy; Ramadan commented that he could not apply enough pressure effectively.
He said, “Israeli leaders sometimes say they want a two-state solution. But it doesn’t work. Current Israeli leaders do not support a two-state solution.”
Referring to the ‘huge’ concessions made by the PLO to establish peace, he said, “Historical Palestine borders 27,000 square kilometers, including the West Bank, Israel and Gaza. Of this, we have accepted 6,000 square kilometers, the rest belongs to the Jewish state. Still they rejected it. What more can we offer?
“We are taking 22 percent and giving them 78 percent. Still they don’t obey. So how do you work with these people?”
‘I can’t go to my country for 22 years’
The ambassador of Palestine in Dhaka pointed out that he could not go to his country for 22 years without the approval of the Israeli authorities.
He said, “Israel wants to keep Palestinians as ‘slaves’ in their homeland. …we didn’t ask for much. We have only asked for what a common man wants. A passport, an identity.”
Highlighting the lack of that opportunity, the ambassador said, “If I want to issue visas for Bangladeshi people, can I do it?”
“Even I cannot go to my country. You can think, the Palestinian ambassador can not go to his country? For 22 years I have not been allowed to enter my country. Because they control the border and I have to go to them. I can’t go if I don’t have permission. If someone in my family dies, I won’t be able to say goodbye to them.”
Stating that there are many like him, he said, “8 million Palestinian people live in different countries of the world as refugees. That’s why people don’t want to leave Gaza. They don’t want to be refugees like us.”
‘The United States took sides by talking about mediation’
Ramadan said the US has decided to be the sole mediator in the Middle East peace process. But given their relationship with Israel, they cannot be qualified mediators.
“Because, when you take sides, you can’t be a mediator, you can’t be neutral. So America is never neutral with us.”
From George Bush to Joe Biden, all the presidents of the United States have talked about resolving the two countries in the light of the 1967 border, but the Palestinian ambassador thinks that nothing has been done.
Highlighting America and Europe’s support for Ukraine’s freedom and human rights and sanctions against Russia, he said, “They don’t play a role in Palestine and Israel. Why America and Europe never sanctions Israel?
“Israel has committed more heinous acts than any country on earth. Israel is the only country in the universe that can do anything and act above the law. Because of America’s support, Israel does not obey any international law and enjoys all kinds of impunity.”
‘Let there be an international conference’
Asked about their role in the peace process in Palestine in the context of China’s growing influence in the Middle East, Ramadan said, “China can play an important role, but it cannot do anything alone yet.”
It is his wish that the Palestinian issue should be resolved through discussions based on evidence in an international conference comprising all the powerful countries of the world.
In this process, the five permanent members of the United Nations, some Europeans and some Arab Muslim countries need to come to a table, the Palestinian statesman said, “They will discuss and decide on an independent Palestinian state.” That’s what they say. We want European countries to do only what they say. Nothing more, an independent Palestinian state.”
‘Normalizing relations with Israel goes against us’
Ambassador Ramadan believes that the normalization of relations with Israel by some Arab countries has “turned against” the Palestinians.
He said, “We said it would destroy the path to a Palestinian state.” Because Israel wants them to be accepted in the Middle East. About 80 percent of Israelis came from Europe, settled in Palestine and established the Jewish state.
“That’s why neighboring Arab countries need a relationship to accept them. So that Israel can be a reality on the ground in exchange for Palestine.”
Speaking about the Arabs withdrawing from their positions, the ambassador cited the example of the Arab Initiative led by Saudi King Abdullah.
Highlighting the initiative of 2002, he said, “It was said that the Arab countries would recognize Israel and make peace with Israel only on one condition, when the Palestinians would be able to establish an independent, sovereign state.”
“It was the right thing to do. But if 22 Arab countries allow Israel to normalize relations before Palestinian statehood, it is not good for the Palestinian issue at all.”