Former Iraqi diplomat: Israel should put end to secret Arab visits

The diplomat suggested that Israel demand visits take place in broad daylight.

April 11, 2016 21:57
2 minute read.
Temple Mount

Israeli flag and Temple Mount . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Peace between Israel and the Arab world will come not through governments, but rather through people-to-people contact, Hamad al-Sharifi, a former Iraqi diplomat, said on Monday.

Sharifi, in Israel as a guest of the Foreign Ministry for five days, told The Jerusalem Post from the Knesset that Israel was making a mistake in allowing secret visits by Arab officials. Instead, he said, these visits should take place in broad daylight.

“I am saying this to everyone I meet, ‘Don’t accept secret visits, secret visits won’t achieve anything,’” he said.  “In order for the barriers to be broken, the visits should be done in full public view.”

The Baghdad-born Sharifi has served in the Iraqi Embassy in Kuwait, as the deputy chief of mission at Iraq’s embassy in Jordan, and as an adviser after the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s Defense Ministry. He currently lives in London, and heads an organization called the Liberal Muslims.

Sharifi arrived on Sunday, and went immediately to a meeting with Iraqi-born Jews in Or Yehuda. “I want to give an example that Iraq and Israel can achieve peace through people, and the bridge to that peace is the Iraqi Jewish community here,” he said.

The initiative for the visit came from Hasan Kaabiah, the Foreign Ministry’s spokesman for the Arabic press. The idea, he said, is to bring influential voices from the Arab world to Israel to see the country firsthand, and “not through the lens of Al Jazeera.”

Last month Kaabiah brought a group of journalists from Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and in the coming months he hopes to bring a delegation of Jordanian university students.

“Over the last two years there has been a great deal of openness for visits to Israel as the barrier of fear over the visits has started to fall,” he said.

In addition to his discussions with representatives of the Iraqi Jewish community, Sharifi is also meeting Knesset members and religious leaders, and touring the country’s sites.

He said he is not fearful of the reaction his visit may cause in Iraq, “I came here first, and will deal with the troubles that might arise later,” he said. “I am not afraid, and nobody can persuade me not to do what I think is right.”

Kaabiah said that Sharif’s visit is being covered extensively on Arabic social media sites.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

An Israeli nurse stands next to the bed of a severely wounded Syrian at the Western Galilee Hospital
July 23, 2019
Health Ministry seeks labor court injunction to end nurses' strike


Cookie Settings