Iraq has introduced a draconian law that would see citizens who communicate with Israelis executed.
News of the barbaric legislation comes as senior Iraqi delegates were in London this week for a trade conference at which they will be feted by British ministers.
The Council of Representatives of Iraq approved today a draft resolution on banning any relations with the “Israeli occupation” and criminalizing the normalisation of ties.
The bill was passed unanimously during an ordinary session in Baghdad, according to the state news agency INA.
Analysts have highlighted the far-reaching effect of the proposed legislation, which covers foreign nationals in Iraq and Iraqi nationals outside Iraq. The drafting extends to Iraqis visiting Israeli embassies and Israeli-linked organisations overseas.
Alongside a ban on travel to Israel, it also prohibits “communication” with Israelis, including via social media.
Members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives last week had voted to progress the draft bill, titled ‘Banning Normalisation and Establishment of Relations with the Zionist Entity’.
The bill bans “contact and communication of any kind and means with the occupying Zionist entity, its nationals, and representatives, whether individuals or institutions or organisations, for any reason”.
It also bans any “financial or moral assistance” to Israel or Israeli organisations, as it does the “promotion of any ideas, ideologies, principles, or Israeli or Zionist conduct, in any form”. Anyone found guilty would face “execution or lifelong imprisonment”.
The law will cover all of Iraq, including the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, with Iraqi Jews warning that it would risk family members speaking to one another across borders upon pain of death.
Following elections in October, the ruling coalition is headed by influential anti-Western Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who introduced the bill.
His cousin, Jaafar al-Sadr, is the current Iraqi ambassador to the UK and speaker at this week’s Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) Spring Conference at Mansion House in London, which promises “networking and business opportunities”.
The IBBC is sponsored by some big British companies including Standard Chartered, BP, Shell, Mott MacDonald, G4S, Eversheds, PWC, and Serco, as well as the University of Northampton and Bath Spa University.
British ministers were this week being asked to explain their ongoing entente with a regime advocating death to anyone contacting Israel or Israelis, which critics say will divide families and friends.
Despite the millennia of Jewish history in Mesopotamia, the modern state of Iraq has never had diplomatic ties with Israel
British Jewish leader Edwin Shuker, who was born in Iraq, called the bill “barbaric” and “an affront to Iraq and the good people of Iraq with whom we grew up, who desire peace, and to reconnect with Iraqi Jews wherever they have been displaced”.
He said: “These and others are now threatened with execution. This is state-sponsored terrorism against civilians and I for one have shelved any plans to visit the country or to connect with it, even though I am a British citizen.
“I call on the British government to demand clarifications and to take the appropriate measures against such brutality.”
Lord Howell, who is due to give the keynote speech at the Iraqi-Britain Business Conference at the Mansion House on Tuesday, was not aware of the proposed legislation.
He told Jewish News: “I would certainly not endorse it. In fact, I shall be speaking mainly about new trends in British foreign policy for the whole region, not just Iraq”.
He said he would find out more “about the horrific measures” and pledged to raise the issue with Iraqi delegates at the conference.
Lord Howell, who is due to give the keynote speech at the Iraqi-Britain Business Conference at the Mansion House on Tuesday, was not aware of the proposed legislation
It is not the first time that Iraqi lawmakers have leveraged the death penalty when it comes to Israel. During Saddam Hussein’s reign, the Baathist-era penal code called for those “promoting, or associating with, Zionist principles and organisations” to be executed.
Iraqi Jews say this is merely the latest attack, with the country’s Citizenship Act of 2006 “excluding only the Jewish community from the right to retrieve their Iraqi nationality,” which they called “a great disappointment” and “a continuation of the policy of ethnic cleansing”.
Despite the millennia of Jewish history in Mesopotamia, the modern state of Iraq has never had diplomatic ties with Israel and is not the first Arab state to try to shield itself from the increasing “normalisation of relations” with Jerusalem.
Such laws have been sparked by reaction to the recent diplomatic thaws between Israel and states such as Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco. Yet despite the anti-normalisation push in Iraq and Kuwait, other Arab states soon look set to follow suit.
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