TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced strong sympathy for the “desires” of secessionist Kurds as Iraq’s Kurdistan region moves to freeze the results of a contentious independence vote in favor of national dialog.
“The Kurds demonstrate national maturity and international maturity,” Netanyahu said in at the Israeli parliament (Knesset) in Jerusalem al-Quds on Tuesday.
“We have very great sympathy for their desires and the world needs to concern itself with their safety and with their future,” he added.
The Israeli premier was speaking during a memorial ceremony for far-right former tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi, who was assassinated in 2001.
Ze’evi went on a secret mission to the Iraqi Kurdish region in the 1960s and supervised the establishment of an Israeli military “field hospital” there, Netanyahu said.
During the visit, Ze’evi “came face to face with warm expressions of support for Israel which continue to this day,” Netanyahu noted.
The memorial coincided with news that Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) decided to postpone planned legislative elections for eight months amid tensions with the central government in Baghdad.
The KRG later proposed to freeze the results of its September 25 independence referendum and start “an open dialogue between the government of Kurdistan and the central government on the basis of the constitution.”
Baghdad views the plebiscite as illegal and wants the KRG to annul the results.
The Iraqi government responded to the referendum by taking a number of punitive measures, including a campaign to seize back positions held by Kurdish forces since 2014, when they joined the fight against Daesh terrorists.
Except for Israel, the entire international community, particularly Iraq’s neighbors, voiced opposition to Kurdistan’s separation from the mainland, saying such a vote could complicate counter-terrorism operations in the Arab state.
Netanyahu went against the global tide on September 13 and publicly voiced support for what he called the “legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”
Earlier this month, Israeli officials told Reuters that Netanyahu had been lobbying world powers to garner support for the secession bid and prevent further setbacks to the Kurds as they lose ground to the Iraqi army.
“The issue at present is ... to prevent an attack on the Kurds, extermination of the Kurds and any harm to them, their autonomy and region,” Israel’s Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said on October 20.
An unnamed Israeli regime official also stressed that it would be best if someone gave the Kurds “weaponry, and whatever else.”