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The New Arab

Iraq official says Israel claim of delegation visits 'misleading'

Baghdad does not recognise Israel [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 January, 2019

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A senior Iraqi official has denied a claim by Israel's foreign ministry that delegations from Baghdad visited Israel last year.

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Iraq, Israel.

A senior Iraqi official has denied a claim by Israel's foreign ministry that delegations from Baghdad visited Israel last year.

The Cabinet official told The New Arab on Monday during a phone call that the Israeli claim was "misleading".

"The information we have asserts that no one has left Iraq to visit the Zionist entity," the official said.

He said that Iraqis living abroad with foreign passports may have taken part in activities organised in Israel and that the only Iraqi who travelled to Tel Aviv using an Iraqi passport was Nobel laureate Nadia Murad, a Yezidi activist and genocide survivor who addressed the Knesset last year.

Israel's foreign ministry said on Twitter on Sunday that three Iraqi delegations made up of "15 influential Shia and Sunni personalities in the country" visited Israel in 2018.

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

First deputy speaker of parliament Hassan Karim al-Kaabi 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.

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

But the question remains sensitive and Israel's support for an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan in late 2017 provoked Iraqi officials' ire.

Israel was the only country to back the vote, which Baghdad deemed illegal.

In 2017, a former Miss Iraq sparked a storm when she took a selfie with Miss Israel.

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