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Iraqi politicians demand probe into reported visits to Israeli-occupied territories

Iraqi lawmakers attend the first parliament session in Baghdad, Iraq, September 3, 2018. (Photo by AP)

A reported visit to the Israeli-occupied territories by several Iraqi lawmakers has sparked a wave of condemnations from the Arab country’s political leaders, with some of them demanding a probe to identify those who crossed a “red line.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday that three Iraqi delegations had secretly visited the occupied territories in 2018.

 The ministry said the 15 Iraqi dignitaries had visited “Israeli officials and universities,” as well as the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem al-Quds.

The report did not identify any members of the Iraqi delegations, nor did it specify with which Israeli officials they had held talks. It said the most recent of the visits was in December.

According to Baghdad al-Youm website, Nasr al-Shammari, deputy secretary-general of Iraq’s Islamic Resistance Movement (al-Nojaba) said in case the report is proved to be true, those who visited the occupied territories should be punished.

The Foreign Relations Committee of Iraq’s parliament also said the Israeli report was aimed at “creating sedition in the country.”

Furat al-Tamimi, a member of the committee, said the issue will be discussed in the upcoming meeting between the parliamentary committee and the foreign ministry, according to Iraq’s Arabic-language al-Sumeriyah news channel.

If the trip has taken place, al-Tamimi said, the responsibility for this issue lies with the security departments, particularly the national security.

Meanwhile, prominent politician and leader of Iraq’s al-Qarar Coalition Athil al-Nujaifi denied reports that he had been among those who visited the occupied territories.

The report first drew strong reaction from First Deputy Speaker of Iraqi Parliament Hassan Karim al-Kaabi, who said in a statement on Monday that “To go to the occupied territory is a red line, and an extremely sensitive issue for all Muslims.”

He also called for “an investigation… to identify those who went to the occupied territory, particularly if they are lawmakers.”

Iraq does not formally recognize Israel, and Baghdad and Tel Aviv are technically still at war.

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