ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday stopped his government from commenting on the Kurdistan Region’s independence vote, two officials said.
Asked to comment on the independence vote, one Israeli cabinet minister declined and told Reuters Netanyahu had “asked us not to.”
A second Israeli official confirmed the command, adding the referendum was considered “too sensitive” a subject.
The Prime Minister’s office declined to respond to a request for comment, Reuters said.
Since the 1960s, Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence, and business ties with the Kurdistan Region.
Israel has also not shied away from showing public support to the Kurds in the past.
On Sep. 13, Prime Minister Netanyahu released a statement backing the Kurds ahead of the historic vote.
In August, Netanyahu met with 33 Republican congressmen and expressed his support for the birth of a new Kurdish state in the Middle East.
The Israeli Prime Minister told the delegation of US members of Congress that he supports the establishment of an independent Kurdistan.
A source who was in attendance said Netanyahu displayed his “positive attitude” toward an independent Kurdistan, adding Kurds were a “brave, pro-Western people who share our values.”
Israel has been the only state to have publicly voiced its support for Kurdish statehood in northern Iraq, amid tensions with Turkey and Iran.
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Netanyahu’s position on the Kurds affected Ankara’s relations with Israel.
“There is no one recognizing the [Kurdistan referendum decision] except him,” Erdogan said during a press conference in Istanbul. “We are in a different position.”
Meanwhile, Jewish-Kurds in Kurdistan were among the estimated five million Kurds across the Region eligible to vote, visiting polling stations to cast their ballots.
Editing by Ava Homa