Israel Supports an Independent State of the Kurds
Israel supports the creation of a Kurdish state. This was announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against the background of a referendum in Iraq about Kurdish independence, which the authorities in Baghdad oppose, Reuters reported.
Israel maintains discreet military, intelligence and business relations with the Kurds since the 1960s, looking at the minority ethnic group - whose indigenous peoples are divided between Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran - as a buffer against the common Arab enemies.
On Wednesday, Iraqi Kurdistan leader Masud Barzani said he would continue the preparations for the referendum scheduled for September 25 despite the Iraqi Parliament's decision to reject it.
"Israel supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own country," Netanyahu said in a commentary sent to foreign correspondents from his office.
However, Israel continues to view the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based mostly in Turkey and Syria as a terrorist group. Turkey, the United States and the European Union are also in a position to do so.
An Israeli general told in a conference in Washington last week that he personally does not consider the PKK, whose rebels have been conducting an armed rebellion against the Turkish state for more than three decades, as a terrorist group.
Netanyahu, who is due to address the UN General Assembly on September 19, voiced his support for the "Kurdish independence aspirations" in a speech in 2014, stressing that they deserve "political independence."
His latest words, however, can be seen as a more direct support for the creation of a Kurdish state.
Western powers are worried that the referendum in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, which includes the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, may divert attention from the war against the Islamic State.
Iraqi neighbors - Turkey, Iran and Syria - oppose the referendum, fearing that it could fuel separatist moods among their own Kurdish minorities.
The Kurds aspire to independence since the end of the First World War when the colonial powers split the Middle East after the collapse of the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire.
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