Israel not involved in Kurdistan referendum: Netanyahu
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday responded to allegations made by Turkey’s President regarding the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.
Following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusations on Saturday that Israel’s Mossad spy agency played a role in the Kurdistan Region’s landmark vote on independence from Iraq, Netanyahu went on the record denying the claims.
“Israel played no part in the Kurdish referendum, aside from the natural, deep and long-standing sympathy the Jewish people have for the Kurdish people and their aspirations,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly government meeting, according to Israel-based Haaretz.
The PM added that he understands why “those who support Hamas tend to see the Mossad" where it suits them,” an apparent at Erdogan.
Speaking in eastern Turkey on Saturday, Erdogan said that the fact Israeli flags were seen at ‘Yes’ vote rallies in the Kurdistan Region “shows one thing: that this administration [the Kurdish leadership in northern Iraq] has a history with Mossad, they are hand-in-hand together,” AFP reported.
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 Sep. 13, Prime Minister Netanyahu released a statement backing the Kurds ahead of the historic vote. Erdogan had called on his Israeli counterpart to withdraw support ahead of the vote.
The ‘Yes’ vote won with 92.7 percent and since then, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey have taken strong stances against the southern Kurdish Region.
“[…]Let Israel send them [aid]. What, how and through where? Let's see if it can send some,” Erdogan said the day after the referendum was held.
Baghdad imposed a flight ban on the Kurdistan Region over the weekend, while Ankara has threatened food sanctions, and Tehran cut its flights and oil exports to the Region.
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.