No normalisation with Israel in Iraq

Nermeen Al-Mufti , Tuesday 31 May 2022

Iraq’s parliament passed a new law this week criminalising any moves to normalise the country’s relations with Israel, writes Nermeen Al-Mufti in Baghdad

No normalisation in Iraq
Supporters of Al-Sadr celebrate the passing of a bill that criminalises normalisation with Israel (photo: AFP)


The Iraqi parliament unanimously approved a proposed law on the “criminalisation of normalisation with the Zionist entity” last Thursday, which states that penalties of death or life imprisonment will be applied to any Iraqi promoting the normalisation of relations with Israel.

The law was submitted to parliament by the Save the Homeland (Inqath Watan) Alliance that includes the Sadrist, Siyada (Sovereignty), and Kurdistan Democratic Party blocs. According to the Iraqi News Agency (INA), the law criminalises any kind of political, security, economic, artistic, cultural, sports, or scientific cooperation or dealings under any title whatsoever with Israel.

All publications or other materials that promote normalisation with Israel will be confiscated, without prejudice to the criminal responsibility of the perpetrator under the law. Any Iraqi who establishes a relationship with Israel or promotes Zionist or Masonic ideas, principles, ideologies, or behaviour by any means, whether public or private, including conferences, gatherings, publications, publications on social media, or any other means, will be punished with either the death penalty or life imprisonment.

The provisions of the law apply to Iraqis inside and outside the country, as well as to Iraq’s “regional governments, parliamentary councils, and all departments and institutions.”

Najm Kassab, a political analyst and chair of the Al-Mawrid Group for Strategic Studies, a think tank, told Al-Ahram Weekly that “this law proves the sincere intention of powerful clergyman Muqtada Al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist Movement, with regard to his alliance with the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Sunni forces close to some of the Gulf countries that have normalised their relations with Israel.”

Regarding the difference between the new law and Article 111 of the 1969 Iraqi Penal Code, which include punishments such as death and life imprisonment, Kassab said that no other law in Iraq was as severe as the law recently passed by the parliament.

After the vote on the law in parliament, Al-Sadr called on Iraqis to take to the streets “to celebrate this great achievement.”

Ahmed Ali, a university student who participated in the celebrations, told the Weekly that “the majority of Iraqis have not agreed with any regime that has ruled Iraq for decades, but they agree with these regimes on one point, which they see as a matter of principle – no normalisation with the Zionist entity.”

Sanaa Mohamed, a political science MA student, told the Weekly that “the law could be considered by certain foreign countries as being anti-Semitic,” but “I cannot understand why even a word against the Zionists is considered anti-Semitic when killing thousands of Arabs is not, even when the Arabs and the Jews are cousins and are both of Semitic origin.”

The law will come into effect after its publication in the Iraqi Official Gazette, Basheer Al-Araji, a journalist and expert on legal issues, told the Weekly. “There is no specific date for the publication of the Official Gazette. Instead, it is published whenever a number of official instructions and laws are sent to the Ministry of Justice.”

The new law would be published in the Official Gazette as soon as it has been sent officially from the parliament, he said.

Abdulameer Majar, a political analyst, told the Weekly that “the law includes an implicit, though not explicit, recognition of Israel.” However, “it rejects normalisation and criminalises it because Israel occupies Arab land. It does not call for the elimination of Israel from existence.”

Majar mentioned the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Arab League at its Beirut Summit in 2002 that called for peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians through establishing an internationally recognised Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, the return of the refugees, and Israel’s withdrawal from the Occupied Golan Heights, in exchange for the recognition and normalisation of relations between the Arab countries and Israel.

However, not long after this Israel launched a war against Gaza and has never shown any willingness to respect the initiative, he added.

A month before the law was passed in the Iraqi parliament, the Kirkuk Criminal Court in Iraq’s northern oil-rich province sentenced a lawyer to three years in prison because he had participated in a conference calling for the normalisation of relations with Israel held in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and attended by tribal elements in September 2021.

The Karkh Criminal Court in Baghdad issued warrants for the arrest of those who attended the conference on the initiative of suits launched by the Iraqi National Security Agency.

It is a principle in Iraq that there cannot be normalisation of relations with Israel. The new law says that this is “in order to preserve the national and Islamic principles of Iraq and the conviction of the Iraqi people in defending Palestine and its people and all the Arab peoples whose lands are occupied and to deter all those who work for normalisation and for establishing relations with the usurper.”

*A version of this article appears in print in the 2 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.


Search Keywords:
Short link: