World Iraq-Kurd forum pushes Israel normalisation, Baghdad condemns
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More than 300 Iraqis, including tribal leaders, called for a normalisation of ties with Israel at a conference in autonomous Kurdistan organised by a US think-tank, drawing a chorus of condemnation Saturday from Baghdad.
The first initiative of its kind in Iraq, a historic foe of Israel and where its sworn enemy Iran has a strong influence, the conference was held Friday.
US will continue to encourage normalisation with Israel: Blinken
Top US diplomat outlines steps to ‘widen the circle’ of normalisation that do not include peace with Palestinians.Speaking at a virtual event on Friday celebrating the first anniversary of the normalisation agreement between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – which later included Morocco, Sudan and Kosovo – Blinken outlined steps Washington will take to strengthen the accord.
The organisers, the New York-based Center for Peace Communications (CPC), advocates for normalising relations between Israel and Arab countries, alongside working to establish ties between civil society organisations.
Iraqi Kurdistan maintains cordial contacts with Israel, but the federal government in Baghdad, which has fought in Arab-Israeli wars, does not have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
Four Arab nations -- the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan -- last year agreed to normalise ties with Israel in a US-sponsored process dubbed the Abraham Accords.
"We demand our integration into the Abraham Accords," said Sahar al-Tai, one of the attendees, reading a closing statement in a conference room at a hotel in the Kurdish regional capital Arbil.
US to hand over 3,500-year-old 'Gilgamesh' tablet to Iraq
The United States will formally return an illegally imported 3,500-year-old tablet recounting the epic of Gilgamesh to Iraq this week, the United Nations' cultural body UNESCO announced Monday. The ancient tablet, which a wealthy US collector had acquired along with other Iraqi artifacts to display in the Washington Museum of the Bible, will be handed over to Iraqi officials at the Smithsonian Institution on September 23. UNESCO called theThe ancient tablet, which a wealthy US collector had acquired along with other Iraqi artifacts to display in the Washington Museum of the Bible, will be handed over to Iraqi officials at the Smithsonian Institution on September 23.
"Just as these agreements provide for diplomatic relations between the signatories and Israel, we also want normal relations with Israel," she said.
"No force, local or foreign, has the right to prevent this call," added Tai, head of research at the Iraqi federal government's culture ministry.
However, Iraq's federal government rejected the conference's call for normalisation in a statement on Saturday and dismissed the gathering as an "illegal meeting".
- 'Traitors' -
The conference "was not representative of the population's (opinion) and that of residents in Iraqi cities, in whose name these individuals purported to speak," the statement said.
The office of Iraq's President Barham Saleh, himself a Kurd, joined in the condemnation.
Powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr urged the government to "arrest all the participants", while Ahmed Assadi, an MP with the ex-paramilitary group Hashed al-Shaabi, branded them "traitors in the eyes of the law".
Abbas gives Israel ‘one year’ to leave Palestinian territory
Speaking at UN, the PA leader accuses Israel of ‘apartheid’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’, threatens to withdraw recognition.In a virtual address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday, Abbas said he would no longer recognise Israel based on pre-1967 borders – a cornerstone of three decades of failed peace efforts – if it refused to withdraw from the territories Palestinians want for a future state.
The 300 participants at the conference came from across Iraq, according to CPC founder Joseph Braude, a US citizen of Iraqi Jewish origin.
They included Sunni and Shiite representatives from "six governorates: Baghdad, Mosul, Salaheddin, Al-Anbar, Diyala and Babylon," extending to tribal chiefs and "intellectuals and writers", he told AFP by phone.
Other speakers at the conference included Chemi Peres, the head of an Israeli foundation established by his father, the late president Shimon Peres.
"Normalisation with Israel is now a necessity," said Sheikh Rissan al-Halboussi, an attendee from Anbar province, citing the examples of Morocco and the UAE.
Kurdish Iraqi leaders have repeatedly visited Israel over the decades and local politicians have openly demanded Iraq normalise ties with the Jewish state, which itself backed a 2017 independence referendum in the autonomous region.
October 2000 vs May 2021: How Palestinians defied fragmentation .
Analysts and activists say the May 2021 protests marked a turning point in Palestinian mobilisation and unity.Termed “habbet October” in Arabic – meaning popular outburst – the protests and confrontations came after the Israeli military’s killing and wounding of Palestinians in the 1967-occupied territories at the outbreak of the Second Intifada, or uprising.