Three Iraqi delegations said to make unprecedented Israel visits, meet officials
TV report says secret taboo-busting trips arranged with goal of building basis for future ties; delegates tour Yad Vashem, meet academics, discuss Iraqi Jewish heritage
6 January 2019
In an unprecedented series of visits, three delegations of local leaders from Iraq have reportedly made trips to Israel in recent months, and held meetings with Israeli officials.
The delegations, totaling 15 Iraqis, held meetings with Israeli academics, visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, and, most significantly, met with Israeli government officials, Hadashot TV news reported on Sunday night.
Iraq is at war with Israel and is a firm supporter of the Arab League boycott of Israel. Its passports are not valid for travel to Israel.
The groups made the trips, which were firmly designated as unofficial visits, under conditions of great secrecy, the TV report noted, in part in order to avoid antagonizing Iraq’s Iranian neighbors.
The local Iraqi leaders were not from Iraqi Kurdistan, the TV report stressed, but rather from “Iraq proper — that is, Baghdad.” The three delegations comprised both Sunni and Shi’ite members — “influential figures in Iraq.”