Iraq prohibits any ties with Israel and its citizens. A “normalization” of relations is not in sight.

Even a chat with Israeli friends or relatives can in future end with the death penalty for people in Iraq: the Iraqi parliament passed a corresponding law on Thursday.

All MPs present approved the draft law against a “normalization” of relations with Israel, as reported by the state agency INA. Any connections to the country and its people are therefore forbidden and can be punished with life imprisonment or even death.

The law doesn’t just apply to Iraqis at home and abroad. Foreign institutions, companies and private individuals operating in Iraq can also be punished for any contact with Israelis.

Vain demand for better relationships

The influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on his supporters to celebrate on the country’s streets after the vote. Al-Sadr’s bloc won the most seats in October’s parliamentary elections. According to media reports, it was his bloc that introduced the bill to parliament.

Anti-Semitism is rampant in Iraq. Only a handful of Jews live in the country today. The vast majority left Iraq after the founding of Israel.

Last fall, 300 people from Iraq called for normalization of relations with Israel at a conference in the Kurdish autonomous regions. The government then took legal action against a number of participants. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain had previously established diplomatic ties with Israel. Morocco and Sudan also announced that they would normalize their relations with Israel.