Talabani: Iraq is not hostile to Israel

Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani said on 9 September that he saw no reason why Iraq should not normalise relations with Israel, but that unlike Pakistan, Iraq was bound by the decisions of the Arab League which precluded normalisation until a Palestinian state is established.

He said he welcomed investment into Iraq by Israeli businessmen. The Iraqi press was rife with talk of Israeli investors in Iraq, but as far as Talabani knew, there weren’t any.

This is something not all Iraqis are as enthusiastic about as their president. The press has regularly conjured up the spectre of huge numbers of Jews returning to claim back their property and a Jewish conspiracy to buy up Iraq, as this MEMRIarticle from 2003 indicates:

“The Baghdad daily Al-‘Adala(organ of theSupreme Council of the Islamic Revolutionheaded by Ayatollah Baqir Al-Hakim) writes: “A number of Jews are attempting to purchase factories in Baghdad. An eyewitness who works in Al-Jamilaindustrial park told our correspondent that he saw two people, who were identified by an Iraqi as Jews, with a real estate broker walking towards a complex of closed factories in the area. The eyewitness said that after approaching them he found out that they wanted to purchase a number of factories for an unbelievable price, and that the broker’s fee was 20 billion dinars” (about $15 million at the recent rates of exchange).

“On the same day, the daily Dar Al-Salam(organ of the Iraqi Islamic Party) published a report that the “association of clerics in Mosul issued a Fatwa [religious edict] prohibiting the sale of real estate to non-Iraqis… Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Nu’ma said that home and land sold to non-Iraqis may end up in the hands of Jews.”

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