Israel

Netanyahu Expresses Support for Kurdish Independence Amid Concerns of Growing Iranian Power

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his support for an independent Kurdish state in the Kurdish areas of Iraq during a meeting with a delegation of 33 Republican congressmen last week.

According to sources who took part in the discussion, the Prime Minister expressed his “positive attitude” toward a Kurdish state in northern Iraq and described the Kurds as “brave, pro-Western people who share our values,” The Jerusalem Post reported

Netanyahu made his comments amid increasing concerns in Jerusalem that Iran is consolidating power in the region, especially in Syria, but also in Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

Netanyahu has not addressed the issue of Kurdish independence since 2014 because of the thorny nature of the debate, with many states following a policy of supporting a unified Iraq. During a speech in Tel Aviv three years ago, the Prime Minister said that “We should … support the Kurdish aspiration for independence,” and called the Kurds “a nation of fighters [who] have proved political commitment and are worthy of independence.”

Israel and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) do not have an official relationship but have enjoyed friendly ties for years. In 2015, the KRG appointed its first Jewish Representative, Sherzad Omar Mamsani, tasked with reviving Jewish life in northern Iraq and building bridges between Jews and Kurds. Under his leadership, the KRG officially commemorated the Holocaust for the first time.

Moreover, the Kurdish Jewish Community (KJC) said Jews around the world welcome the decision to hold a referendum for Kurdish statehood.

“On behalf of the all Kurdish Jews in Kurdistan and diaspora we call … to put an end for suppression, mass atrocities, displacement, occupation, destroying civilization, history, and our existence, and for the sake of our future generations to serve humanity and live in a peaceful society, let altogether vote and say (YES) for independence of Kurdistan,” read a statement from the KJC in June.

[Photo: Rahim Rashidi / YouTube ]