0248 GMT October 22, 2021
The Iraqi government on Saturday “categorically rejected” a conference held in the semiautonomous Kurdistan region on Friday that called for the normalization of ties with Israel.
In a statement, the office of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi dismissed the gathering organized by a US think tank in the city of Erbil as an "illegal meeting".
More than 300 Iraqis, including tribal leaders, attended the conference held by the New York-based Center for Peace Communications which advocates for resorting relations between Israel and Arab countries, according to AFP.
Four Arab nations – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan – last year agreed to normalize ties with Israel in a US-sponsored process dubbed the Abraham Accords.
“These meetings do not represent the people of Iraq,” the prime minister said in his statement, adding that proposing the concept of normalization “is constitutionally, legally, and politically rejected in the Iraqi state”.
Kadhimi said Baghdad has clearly expressed its “consistent historical position” in support of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people’s rights, including right to an independent state with Al-Quds as its capital.
Iraqi President Barham Salih on Friday dismissed any attempt to normalize ties with Israel and reaffirmed Baghdad’s support for the Palestinian cause.
“The Iraqi presidency strongly rejects the normalization of relations with Israel and calls for respect for the will of the Iraqi people and their national and independent decision,” Salih said.
Iraqi political parties and dignitaries slammed the gathering.
The Sons of Iraq Awakening Movement denied supporting or joining the gathering soon after a statement was released, citing the group among the participants, Press TV wrote.
Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged Erbil to prevent such “terrorist-Zionist gatherings, otherwise, the Iraqi government must declare the conference’s participants as criminals and arrest them”.
In a tweet, Sadr also warned that if Erbil does not prevent such meetings, “we will take the actions that we are religiously, intellectually and nationally responsible for”.
The head of the National Approach bloc called for the prosecution of those who call for normalization of ties with Israel.
“Iraqi law criminalizes these treacherous actions against the principles of the Iraqis, and… these actions are also against the Iraqis’ historical positions in support of the Palestinian cause and combating Zionist arrogance and its extreme criminality,” Ammar Tohme said.