More than 300 Iraqis attended the conference of peace and reclamation organized by U.S. think-tank Center for Peace Communications (CPC) in Erbil on Friday, September 24.
The conference called for Iraq to join the Abraham Accords, referring to the U.S.-sponsored process in which UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan agreed last year to normalize ties with Israel.
“The meeting was organized and held without the knowledge and participation of the KRG, and this meeting does not reflect the KRG’s stance in any way,” the KRG interior ministry said in a statement.
“We will take necessary measures towards how the meeting is organized,” it added.
Earlier on Saturday, Iraq’s federal government also rejected the conference’s call for normalization and dismissed the gathering as an “illegal meeting”.
The conference “was not representative of the population’s [opinion] and that of residents in Iraqi cities, in whose name these individuals purported to speak,” the premier’s office said in a statement.
The office of Iraq’s President Barham Salih, himself a Kurd, joined in the condemnation.
Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr urged the government to “arrest all the participants”, while Ahmed Assadi, an MP with the ex-paramilitary group Hashid al-Shaabi, branded them “traitors in the eyes of the law”.
The 300 participants at the conference came from across Iraq, according to CPC founder Joseph Braude, a U.S. citizen of Iraqi Jewish origin, AFP reported.
They included Sunni and Shia representatives from “six governorates: Baghdad, Mosul, Salaheddin, Al-Anbar, Diyala and Babylon,” extending to tribal chiefs and “intellectuals and writers”, he told AFP by phone.
“We demand our integration into the Abraham Accords,” AFP quoted Sahar al-Tai, one of the attendees, as saying, reading a closing statement in a conference room at a hotel in Erbil.
“We demand our integration into the Abraham Accords,” said Sahar al-Tai, one of the attendees, reading a closing statement in a conference room at a hotel in Erbil.
“Just as these agreements provide for diplomatic relations between the signatories and Israel, we also want normal relations with Israel,” she said.
“No force, local or foreign, has the right to prevent this call,” added Tai, head of research at the Iraqi federal government’s culture ministry.
Other speakers at the conference included Chemi Peres, the head of an Israeli foundation established by his father, the late president Shimon Peres.
“Normalization with Israel is now a necessity,” said Sheikh Rissan al-Halboussi, an attendee from Anbar province, citing the examples of Morocco and the UAE.
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