The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel supports the creation of an independent Kurdish state, in a rare public statement of support for the Kurds after decades of discreet support.
“(Israel) supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state,” Netanyahu said in press statements.
Earlier this week, Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked expressed similar support, saying that Israel and “the Western countries have a major interest in the establishment of the state of Kurdistan … I think that the time has come for the U.S. to support the process.”
The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria is one of the primary recipients of U.S. backing in the region. Western support for Kurdish military units in Syria have been a source of ire for Turkey, which views them as extensions of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) which Erdogan considers to be a terrorist organization.
Netanyahu clarified that Israel does not support the PKK operating in Turkey, who remains a key ally of Israel and the United States. However, a top Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) general speaking at a conference in Washington last week said that he does not consider the PKK to be a terrorist group, contradicting the Prime Minister's statements.
The Israeli voiced support for a “Kurdish state” come just ahead of a September 25th referendum for independence in Iraq, which was rejected by Iraq's parliament resulting in a walkout of several pro-Kurdish groups.
The last time Netayahu voiced support for the Kurds was on August 14th, when he said that he believed the Iraqi Kurds are a “pro-Western people who share similar values as the Israeli people,” al-Masdar reported.
Western support for Kurdish forces, particularly in Syria, has been fraught with political complexity. Earlier this year, a U.S. general said that the U.S. instructed the YPG to "rebrand itself" if they wanted western backing. The Kurdish militia shortly after formed an alliance with Syrian Arab opposition groups, calling themselves the "Syrian Democratic Forces."