search
Any ties with Israel punishable by death or life in jail

US slams Iraqi law banning ties with Israel: ‘Promotes environment of antisemitism’

State Department says legislation jeopardizes freedom of expression, contrasts with progress being made by Baghdad’s neighbors who joined Abraham Accords

Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold a poster with his photo and wave an Iraqi flag as they celebrate the passing of a law criminalizing the normalization of ties with Israel, in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold a poster with his photo and wave an Iraqi flag as they celebrate the passing of a law criminalizing the normalization of ties with Israel, in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

WASHINGTON — The United States lambasted legislation passed in Iraq on Thursday that criminalizes normalization of ties with Israel, saying it fosters “an environment of antisemitism.”

“The United States is deeply disturbed by the Iraqi Parliament’s passage of legislation that criminalizes normalization of relations with Israel,” the State Department said in a statement.

“In addition to jeopardizing freedom of expression and promoting an environment of antisemitism, this legislation stands in stark contrast to progress Iraq’s neighbors have made by building bridges and normalizing relations with Israel, creating new opportunities for people throughout the region,” it continued.

The State Department also reiterated America’s “strong and unwavering support” for Israel, “including as it expands ties with its neighbors in the pursuit of greater peace and prosperity for all.”

The statement was the latest demonstration of support from the Biden administration for the normalization agreements known as the Abraham Accords that Israel signed with the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco in 2020. The administration has yet to broker any additional agreements, focusing primarily on strengthening existing ones, but is reportedly in talks with Saudi Arabia about an agreement that could include steps by Riyadh toward normalization with Jerusalem.

Last year, over 300 Iraqis gathered in the Kurdish capital of Erbil for a conference where speakers called for normalizing ties with Israel, though the event was quickly condemned by the government in Baghdad.

Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold posters with his photo as they celebrate the passing of a law criminalizing the normalization of ties with Israel, in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

The legislation passed on Thursday — which criminalizes any and all relations with Israel, including business ties — said violators could be put to death or face life imprisonment.

The law was approved with 275 lawmakers voting in favor of it in the 329-seat assembly. A parliament statement said the legislation is “a true reflection of the will of the people.”

Influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose party won the largest number of seats in Iraq’s parliamentary elections last year, called for Iraqis to take to the streets to celebrate this ”great achievement.” Hundreds later gathered in central Baghdad, chanting anti-Israel slogans.

It was unclear how the law will be implemented as Iraq has not recognized Israel; the two nations have no diplomatic relations and officially remain in a state of war.

The legislation also entails risks for companies working in Iraq and found to be in violation of the bill.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed