Iraq bill banning normalisation with Israel gets first reading in parliament
The Iraqi Council of Representatives on Wednesday held the first reading of a draft law banning the normalisation of ties with Israel.
The bill, which threatens the death penalty or life imprisonment for calling for normalisation, aims to stamp out future efforts for Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan region to formalise ties with Israel.
According to the bill, which was published by Iraq’s state media in Arabic, all Iraqi officials, including those in the northern Kurdistan region, government institutions, private sector companies and the media are banned from establishing relations with Israel or promoting normalisation.
The bill was introduced by the Sadrist bloc, which won the most seats in the country’s October parliamentary elections, after prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for his members to introduce the bill in a tweet on April 23.
“The bill needs to pass several stages in order to become a law, currently it has been addressed to the parliament’s legal committee, where many changes would be made and then the parliament’s other committees would have their say on the bill,” Aryan Tawagozi, an Iraqi lawmaker from the New Generation faction and member in the parliament’s foreign relations committee told The New Arab. “We think the bill may include several points that might need changes, thus it is too early to have our say on the bill.”
In a move slammed by much of the Arab world and the Palestinians as a betrayal, four Arab countries - the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain, and Morocco - established diplomatic relations with Israel as part of the Abraham Accords- a US-led joint Middle East peace initiative.
Many Iraqi lawmakers, however, are adamant that the same will not happen in Iraq.
“We, as Fatih Alliance, totally refuse the issue of normalising ties with the Israeli entity,” Mohammed al-Hayani, a leader in the pro-Iran Fatih Alliance, told TNA in a brief phone call. “We will certainly vote in favour of the bill in the parliament.”
He said that it is a necessity for Iraq to have such a law “because currently there are political sides that try to normalise relations with Israel,” he said, without naming those parties.
TNA contacted Mohammed Anuz, head of the legal committee in the Iraqi parliament, but he was not available to answer questions on the bill.
In September, a conference advocating for Iraq to join the Abraham Accords was held in the Kurdistan region's capital of Erbil with the participation of more than 300 Kurds, Sunnis and Shias. The conference drew widespread condemnation in Iraq, prompting the Iraqi judiciary to issue arrest warrants for those who participated in the conference.