Iraqi FM says he was 'misled' into interview with Israeli channel

Iraqi FM says he was 'misled' into interview with Israeli channel
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussien said an Israeli channel hid its identity when it approached him for an interview.
2 min read
23 November, 2021
Fuad Hussein said his comments were 'impersonated'. [Getty]

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussien said that an Israeli TV channel "impersonated another entity" when asking to interview him, according to a statement.

Israeli satellite news channel i24News aired an interview with Hussein on 21 November, and said its correspondent spoke with the Iraqi official at Expo 2020 in Dubai.

The channel's correspondent asked the Iraqi minister whether his country would normalise ties with Israel.

He responded: "I do not think so. There are social reasons, the Palestinian issue... the political culture in Iraq, political parties in Iraq... this is a very sensitive issue in Iraq."

Hussein denounced how the Israeli channel characterised his remarks, according to a foreign ministry statement published by the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) on 21 November.

The statement also reiterated Iraq's opposition to normalising relations with Israel, saying that it "absolutely rejects" the idea and will continue standing with the Palestinian people.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ahmad Al-Sahaf also said the government views the Palestinian issue as a "priority", according to the statement.

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When asked about the planned US withdrawal from Iraq, in light of a retreat from Afghanistan in August, Hussain said an agreement with Washington had already taken place.

"I don't know if the Americans are leaving the Middle East... but as for Iraq, we agreed. The agreement is based on the fact that American combat forces are leaving the country at the end of the year."

In September, the Iraqi government announced its outright rejection of calls made to normalise ties with Israel during a conference a day earlier in the northern Kurdish city of Erbil.

Titled the "Peace and Recovery Conference", officials from the autonomous Kurdistan region made controversial calls to normalise ties with Israel, after four Arab states established ties with the country last year.

In a statement following the conference, the participants claimed they represent tribal leaders and members of Sahwat Al-Iraq ("Iraq Awakening") group - which has previously battled Al-Qaeda - directing calls to Iraqis to "enter relations with Israel and its people".

However, the leader of Sahwat al-Iraq, Ahmed Abu-Risha, denied that his group had anything to do with the conference, describing the claims as false and slanderous.

"From the depths of moral commitment and responsibility, we declare that they (speakers) do not represent anyone, and they are not allowed to exploit a clan or region" to talk about such an issue, said Abu-Risha.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi has also said that proposing normalisation with Israel is constitutionally rejected in Iraq.