Iraq–Israel relations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Iraq–Israel relations
Map indicating locations of Iraq and Israel



Iraq and Israel do not have any diplomatic relations.[1] Iraq declared war on the newly established Jewish state in 1948, since then, relations between the two states have remained hostile at best. Iraqi forces participated in the wars against Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973. In 1981, Israel, claiming a threat to national security and afraid of another attack by Iraq, bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction at Al Tuwaitha SalmanPack Area. During the Persian Gulf War Iraq fired 39 modified Scud ballistic missiles at Israel despite there being no aggression from Israel. Israel under pressure from the United States never retaliated.

There are approximately 250,000 to 400,000 Iraqi Jews in Israel,[2] and 34,000 Palestinians in Iraq.[1]


Israeli independence to 2003 war[edit]

An oil line was built by the British in the 1940s, which crossed from Western Iraq through the British-ruled Emirate of Transjordan to British-ruled Palestine. Upon the 1948 birth of Israel and the immediate eruption of war with Iraq, Transjordan and other Arab neighbors, this forced the shutdown of the oil line and resulted in the diversion of Iraqi oil through a branchline to Syria.

Since 1948, Israel and Iraq have been implacable foes. Technically, Baghdad has been in a continuous state of war with Israel since 1948.[3] It sent armies to fight Israel in 1948 and 1967. Iraq also sent troops to provide back up for Syria's armed forces in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Saddam Hussein was widely revered in Arab world for his anti-Israel stance and has supported several Palestinian guerrilla and militant organisations, and during the last Palestinian intifada Iraq subsidized families of Palestinian martyrs (including suicide bombers).[citation needed] Military action was taken by Israel when they bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, fearing that Saddam would use it to develop nuclear weapons. Iraq did not respond until during the Persian Gulf war, in 1991, when Hussein's army fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel. However, Israel did not retaliate and no further action was taken from either sides since.

In 1995, according to British author Nigel Ashton, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin sent a message to Saddam Hussein through King Hussein of Jordan requesting a meeting between him and Saddam. Rabin hoped peace with Iraq might encourage Iran and Syria to do the same. Rabin was assassinated in November, ending the contact between governments.[4] Rabin had previously supervised Operation Bramble Bush, a failed 1992 plan to assassinate Saddam with Sayeret Matkal commandos.[5]

Since the 2003 war in Iraq[edit]

In 2003, a US-UK led coalition of nations (which did not include Israel) toppled Hussein's government in an effort called Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to former US undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith, Israeli officials did not push their American counterparts to initiate the war in Iraq. In an interview with Ynet, Feith stated that "what you heard from the Israelis was not any kind of advocacy of war with Iraq" and that "[w]hat you heard from Israeli officials in private discussions was that they were not really focused on Iraq... [t]hey were much more focused on Iran."[6]

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said in 2004 that Iraq would not reconcile its differences with Israel.[7]

On July 1, 2008, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak shook hands and met briefly with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at a conference of Socialist International in Greece. Barak and Talabani were both at the conference as representatives of their respective political parties, Labour and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.[8]

Iraqi MP Mithal al-Alusi has twice visited Israel; once in 2004 and once in 2008, drawing protest from many in the Iraqi government. He has called for diplomatic relations and military intelligence sharing between Iraq and Israel.[9][10]

During the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza Conflict, the Iraqi government condemned the attack, stating that: "the Iraqi government demands a halt to the military operations, that civilians’ lives are not unnecessarily exposed to danger and requests that the international community honour its responsibilities and take the required measures to stop the attack".[11] The Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on Islamic countries to cut relations with Israel and end all "secret and public talks" with it.[12] Also the Iraqi Shia leader Ali al-Sistani, has called for decisive action by Arab and Muslim states for an end to Israeli attacks on Gaza. Though he condemned the operation, he stated that "supporting our brothers only with words is meaningless, considering the big tragedy they are facing."[13] After the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, an Iraqi government official, MP Khairallah al-Basri (a member of current premier Nouri al-Maliki's Islamist State of Law Coalition), condemned the attack and described it as a "new humanitarian disaster," as well as, "a violation of human rights and a breach of international standards and norms."[14] On July 1, 2012 Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that Iraq will establish diplomatic relations with all sovereign United Nations member states except Israel. He said that Iraq does not discriminate against any country but he rejected the idea of establishing any cultural, economic, military, or political ties with the Jewish state.[15]

See also[edit]