Iraq issues arrest warrants for activists who urged normalisation with Israel

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Iraq issues arrest warrants for activists who urged normalisation with Israel

Hundreds attended a conference last week which called for the county to establish ties with the Jewish state, which was rejected by Iraqi leaders

Iraqi President Barham Salih (Wikipedia/Source:Communications Division of the Administration of the President of Georgia/ Author: Giorgi Abdaladze, Official Photographer of the Administration of the President of Georgia/(CC BY-SA 4.0))
Iraqi President Barham Salih (Wikipedia/Source:Communications Division of the Administration of the President of Georgia/ Author: Giorgi Abdaladze, Official Photographer of the Administration of the President of Georgia/(CC BY-SA 4.0))

Hundreds of Iraqi civic leaders and activists attended a conference calling for the country to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.

But Iraq’s government rejected the call and is now seeking to arrest the leaders of the conference and may also try to arrest other attendees for the crime, under Iraqi law, of aiding and abetting ideas that support Zionism, according to Haaretz. Earlier, governmental leaders had said in a statement that the demand for normalisation of ties with Israel “was not representative of the population’s [opinion] and that of residents in Iraqi cities,” according to AFP.

The conference, held on Friday in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil, featured speakers from groups across Iraqi society calling on Iraq to join the Abraham Accords, the normalisation agreements signed last year between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The conference was sponsored by the Center for Peace Communications, an American organisation that promotes ties between Israel and the Arab world.

In addition to the UAE and Bahrain, Israel is in the process of establishing full diplomatic relations with Morocco and Sudan. Before last year, Israel had relations with only two of its neighbours — Egypt and Jordan. The majority of the region still does not have relations with Israel, though Israel has long maintained warm ties to Kurdish leaders in Iraq.

“We demand full diplomatic relations with the State of Israel,” said Wisam Al-Hardan, a leader of an American-allied Iraqi coalition of militias, according to the Times of Israel. He called for “a new policy of normalisation based on people-to-people relations with the citizens of that country.”

Al-Hardan, who is now one of the leaders facing arrest, also published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Friday calling for normalisation of ties with Israel. He also lamented the driving out of Iraq’s Jewish community after Israel was founded.

Iraq and Israel have fought multiple times throughout their history. Iraq was one of the nations that attacked Israel upon its founding in 1948, and sent troops to fight in later Arab-Israeli wars. In 1981, Israel bombed a nuclear reactor in Iraq, which was then led by Saddam Hussein, to eliminate its nuclear weapons program. In 1991, during the Gulf War, Iraq bombed Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid praised the conference on Friday, calling it “a source of hope and optimism,” according to the Times of Israel.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: