Hamad Al-Sharifi, who long worked for the Iraqi government as a diplomat to Jordan and Kuwait, is in Jerusalem this week as an official guest of Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
His visit is considered a breakthrough due to the fact that Israel and Iraq still have no diplomatic relations.
During his time here, Al-Sharifi has met and will meet with Israelis of Iraqi origin, members of Knesset and Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders. He will also visit historic and national sites, including the Holocaust museum at Yad Vashem.
Before departing for the Jewish state, Al-Sharifi said he would one day like to be Iraq’s ambassador to Israel.
He also had kind works for Hassan Kaabiah, the Israeli Arab diplomat who serves as deputy spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, and who was instrumental in getting Al-Sharifi on a plane to Tel Aviv.
“I would like to thank Hassan Kaabiah…who convinced me to visit to see the true Israel, which we have not seen on anti-Israeli television,” he said. “One day, I hope that I will be the Iraqi ambassador to Israel and that Hassan will be the Israeli ambassador to Iraq.”
Al-Sharifi said that he considers himself “a friend of Israel.”
In remarks to Israel’s Ynet news portal, Yonatan Gonen, the head of Arabic-language digital diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry, noted that the “arrival of the former Iraqi diplomat demonstrates that there are no limits in today’s world. We receive many messages from Iraqis, expressing their support for Israel and their longing for the Jewish community.”