Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Devil is in the Details of Iraq's New Law Criminalizing Normalization with Israel

Devil is in the Details of Iraq's New Law Criminalizing Normalization with Israel

Saturday, 28 May, 2022 - 06:30
Supporters of the leader of the Sadrist movement celebrate the adoption of a law criminalizing normalization with Israel in Baghdad (AFP)

No sooner had Iraq's parliament approved the law against normalizing ties with Israel than issues arose amid fears of "conflicts" with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil.

On Thursday, 275 Iraqi lawmakers voted in favor of a bill criminalizing the normalization of ties and any relations, including business ties, with Israel. The legislation says that violation of the law is punishable with the death sentence or life imprisonment.

Experts fear the Iraqi parliament's decision would put the country on the list of countries that the US could target.

Some even indicated that Iraq had determined its position by joining the so-called "resistance front" against Israel, while others worry it might harm the country's relations with Arab and Islamic nations that have normalized relations with Israel.

However, several observers believe that the law will be counterproductive as it paves the way for normalization through special approvals from the Ministry of Interior for Jews who want to visit some Jewish monuments in Iraq.

According to several experts, the issue of normalization between Iraq and Israel was not up for discussion to have a law issued, especially since Iraq is going through serious problems and crises that should be addressed, notably the issue of forming a new cabinet.

Iraq is almost the only Arab country that participated in the war against Israel in 1948, despite not having shared borders. Regardless of its political systems, Baghdad remains at war with Tel Aviv because it did not sign the armistice agreement.

Iraq launched about 49 missiles at Israel during the war to liberate Kuwait in 1991.

The leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, who proposed the law, asserted in a tweet that he is not hostile to religions but to extremism, terrorism, and injustice.

"We protect Christian and Jewish minorities, and you are expelling Arabs and Muslims. We condemn ISIS, and you support Western extremism," he added.

Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah hailed the law, while the UK announced it was barbaric, and the US said it was deeply disturbed by it.

"In addition to jeopardizing freedom of expression and promoting an environment of antisemitism, this legislation stands in stark contrast to the progress Iraq's neighbors have made by building bridges and normalizing relations with Israel, creating new opportunities for people throughout the region," read the State Department statement.

It asserted that the US would continue to be a strong and unwavering partner in supporting Israel, including as it expands ties with its neighbors to pursue greater peace and prosperity for all.

The new law will widen the rift between Iraq and Kurdistan, especially since the latter is accused of selling oil to Israel.

Advisor of Masoud Barzani Arafat Karam confirmed that the Kurdish vote in the Federal Parliament on a law criminalizing normalization with Israel does not mean Erbil has joined the resistance front.

Member of the State of Law Coalition Haider al-Lami told Rudaw that various parties tried to pressure Shiite figures into normalizing relations with Israel, which prompted those leaders to approve the new legislation.

Lami said there are no peace treaties between Baghdad and Tel Aviv, adding that Iraq is in a state of war with Israel.

The official explained that many reports claimed that several Kurdish figures had relations with Israeli politicians, but Kurdish President Nechirvan Barzani denied it repeatedly.

Law expert Majid Majbas described the law as necessary, adding that Iraqi legislators have not recognized Israel and support the right of the Palestinian people to establish a state.

Majbas explained to Iraqi News Agency (INA) that the Iraqi Penal Code in Article 201 explicitly refers to the criminalization of all forms of cooperation with the Israeli entity, whether a "person who promotes or acclaims Zionist principles including freemasonry or who associates himself with, Zionist organizations or assists them by giving material or moral support or works in any way towards the realization of Zionist objectives."

Editor Picks