Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today denied Turkish claims of covert involvement in Iraqi Kurdistan’s recent independence vote, reiterating however his “sympathy” for the Kurdish people. On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel’s intelligence agency played a role in the September 25 referendum, citing as proof the waving of Israeli flags during celebrations for the overwhelming “yes” victory. “This shows one thing, that this administration (in northern Iraq) has a history with Mossad, they are hand-in- hand together,” Erdogan said in a televised speech.
Speaking at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu noted Turkey’s support for the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza, before denying Erdogan’s charge. “I can understand why those who support Hamas want to see the Mossad wherever things don’t work out for them,” Netanyahu said in remarks relayed by his office. “But Israel had no part in the Kurdish referendum, aside from the deep, natural and years-long sympathy of the Jewish people to the Kurdish people and its aspirations,” he said.
Israel has been the only country to openly support Kurdish independence, with Netanyahu backing “the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.” Netanyahu did not specify how and where such a state should come into being. Turkey fiercely opposed the referendum and has threatened sanctions against the region, reflecting its worries about its own sizeable Kurdish minority.