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January 7, 2019 3:38 pm

Controversy Erupts in Iraq Over Reported Secret Dignitary Visits to Israel

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Iraqi Air Force planes fly past during Iraqi Army Day anniversary celebrations in Baghdad, Jan. 6, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Thaier Al-Sudani.

The revelation that three groups of Iraqi dignitaries traveled in secret to Israel last year has sparked controversy in their home country.

The trips were first reported on, by the Israeli news channel Hadashot, on Sunday.

The visitors were said to be “influential Shiite and Sunni personalities” who met with Israeli officials and academics, and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

According to Arab News, the first deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Hassan Karim Al-Kaabi, has demanded “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,” he was quoted as saying.

Iraq has technically been in a state of war with Israel since the Jewish state’s founding in 1948.

Israel’s support for Kurdish independence has also been a source of tension between the two countries in recent years.

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