Iraq condemns meeting that called for normalising relations with Israel

Issue remains a taboo political topic in Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has rejected a meeting of prominent tribal leaders and dignitaries that called for ties with Israel to be normalised.

More than 300 people attended the conference in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, demanding the normalisation of relations.

It took place on Friday and was arranged by the US think tank, Centre for Peace Communications.

"The government confirms, from the outset, that these meetings do not represent the people of Iraq and its residents. This was an attempt to confuse the general situation and revive the hateful sectarian tone," Mr Al Kadhimi's office said on Sunday.

The normalisation of relations with Israel is "constitutionally, legally and politically rejected in Iraq," said the statement.

The government in Baghdad has "clearly expressed its consistent historical position in support of the just Palestinian cause, and the defence of the rights of the Palestinian people", it added.

In a statement given to The National, the Kurdistan Regional Government said it was not aware of the conference, which was held in its capital Erbil. It said the meeting was held without "its approval".

"The organisers of this conference will be held accountable and will face the appropriate punitive measures for hosting a non-government sanctioned event of the sort," said KRG spokesman Jotiar Adil.

“The foreign policy of the Kurdistan Region is directly linked to the foreign policy of Iraq, which the KRG is committed to respect," Mr Adil said.

Arrest warrants were issued against a Sunni tribal leader and a Ministry of Culture employee who called for normalisation with Israel.

Sheikh Wissam Al Hardan from Anbar province and Sahar Karim Al Taie appeared in the video as they gave speeches at the conference.

The Iraqi Supreme Judiciary Council said the meeting was a “crime”.

“The same legal measures will be taken against other participants once receiving their full names,” it said.

Parliamentary Speaker Mohamed Al Halbousi and one of his deputies also rejected the meeting, along with Iraqi President Barham Salih.

Iraq's Ministry of Culture also rejected the conference and affirmed "its adherence to the position of the Iraqi government and people in rejecting the normalisation of relations and its support for the Palestinian people".

The CPC advocates normalising relations between Israel and Arab countries while working to establish ties between civil society organisations.

The organisation is led by Joseph Braude, a Jewish American whose family fled Baghdad during the 1940s.

Mr Braude told the conference that those gathered in Erbil had made a "courageous decision."

Updated: September 26th 2021, 11:47 AM