Baghdad bans the Israeli flag & What is to be done? @ELALUSA Report w/Malcolm Hoenlein @Conf_of_pres.

Nov 04, 2017, 12:50 AM

11-03-2017 (Photo: ) Twitter: @BatchelorShow

Baghdad bans the Israeli flag & What is to be done? @ELALUSA Report w/Malcolm Hoenlein @Confofpres.

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s parliament voted unanimously to activate a lapsed law that criminalizes displaying the Israeli flag in public, an unexpected step that comes in response to a Kurdish bid to secede.

The move illustrates both the deep injury Iraq’s Arab majority felt when the nation’s Kurds held an independence referendum last month — and the resurgent Arab nationalism the vote has provoked.

Israel was the only country to publicly support the referendum for an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq that took place in September. The move had been strenuously opposed by Baghdad, Iran, Turkey and even the Kurds’ closest ally, the United States.

In a show of gratitude for Israel’s support, Kurds proudly waved large Israeli flags at massive rallies held ahead of the vote. Although it seemed unusual for the blue and white flag to appear so freely in a region largely hostile to Israel, for Kurds it was the continuation of a historic friendship.

Israel had long supported Kurdish uprisings against former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Neither side seemed eager to seek escalation after the tunnel was blown up on Monday by Israel, which pointed out that its action was carried out on its own side of the border.

The Islamic Jihad group said it was denied access to the collapsed tunnel and was unable to recover the bodies of its five members.

Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the dominant Islamist group in Gaza that had said earlier it lost two people in the tunnel collapse, have sworn to retaliate.

Hamas accused Israel of trying to undermine a reconciliation agreement it reached with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, last month.

Israel has been constructing a sensor-equipped underground wall along the 60-km (36-mile) Gaza border, aiming to complete the $1.1 billion project by mid-2019.