Iraqi lawmaker outraged over officials' trips to Israel

Iraq's deputy parliamentary speaker demands probe into reported visits by Iraqi officials to Israel.

Ben Ariel,


Reports of visits by Iraqi officials to Israel stirred controversy on Monday in Iraq, where the deputy parliamentary speaker demanded a probe to identify those who crossed a "red line", according to AFP.

Hadashot TV reported on Sunday that three delegations from Iraq visited Israel in recent months, the last of which arrived in Israel within the last month.

The delegations included a total of 15 influential people from Iraq, including local religious leaders, both Sunnis and Shiites, the report said.

The first deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Hassan Karim al-Kaabi, on Monday called in a statement for "an investigation... to identify those who went to the occupied territory, particularly if they are lawmakers."

"To go to the occupied territory is a red line and an extremely sensitive issue for all Muslims", the statement said, according to AFP.

Baghdad does not recognize Israel and is technically in a state of war with it.

Kaabi is close to Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr, whose bloc won the largest number of seats in Iraq's legislative election last year.

A significant Iraqi Jewish community lives in Israel and regularly calls for a normalization of ties between Baghdad and the Jewish state.

That issue, however, remains sensitive and Israel's support for an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan in late 2017 provoked Iraqi officials' ire.

In 2017, a former Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, sparked a storm when she took a selfie with Miss Israel. The outcry in her native Iraq over the selfie compelled Idan's family to relocate to the United States, where Sarah had been living.

Idan visited Israel in June of 2018, where she called for coexistence and regional peace.