Iraqi parliament passes bill banning 'any ties' with Israel

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Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gives a news conference in the central holy shrine city of Najaf, November 18, 2021.
Ali NAJAFI / AFPIraqi Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gives a news conference in the central holy shrine city of Najaf, November 18, 2021.

Law is 'a true reflection of the will of the people'

Iraqi lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill criminalizing the normalization of ties and any relations with Israel, with violations punishable by death or life imprisonment.

The legislation comes months after a conference advocating for Iraq to normalize its ties with Israel was held in the Kurdistan region's capital of Erbil and attended by more than 300 Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites.

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Washington on Friday condemned the legislation, introduced by the bloc led by hardline Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr – which won the most seats in parliamentary elections last October. 

“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,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

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.”

Hundreds later gathered in Iraq's capital city of Baghdad, chanting anti-Israel slogans.

Iraq never recognized the Jewish state since its formation in 1948 and has no diplomatic relations with it. 

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