An angry Iraqi lawmaker demanded answers from members of the restive northern province over Israel’s public support for the creation of an independent Kurdistan.
“The Kurds should explain to the Arab world their relationship with Israel and clarify the situation. There should remain no room for doubt. We are witness to the Kurds becoming an enemy of Iraq and the Muslim world,” government member Tzadak al-Laban said on Sunday, in reference to recent statements by Israel’s prime minister, foreign minister, and president supporting Kurdish independence.
“Israel is attempting to protect its interests and making efforts to divide Arab states into smaller states in order to weaken the Arab people,” al-Laban said, according to Israeli daily Ma’ariv.
“It is upon us to support the international efforts to strengthen Jordan, and support the Kurds’ aspiration for independence,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a policy speech on Sunday in Tel Aviv.
Calling the Kurds, a “fighting people that have proven political commitment and political moderation,” Netanyahu added “and they’re also worthy of their own political independence.”
Both his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and President Shimon Peres echoed Netanyahu’s sentiments in meetings with senior American officials.
“Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion,” Lieberman told U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry last week.
Peres, meeting with President Barack Obama, said, “The Kurds have, de facto, created their own state.”
As well, Kurdistan’s recently announced first shipment of crude oil to Israel via a Turkish port also raised apprehensions in Baghdad.
While the shipment is the first major public expression of ties between Israel and Kurdistan, both sides have reputedly developed commercial and military ties, and Israeli advisors have trained Kurdish units, according to a BBC report.
Masoud Barzani, elected president of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq in June 2005, has said that “establishing relations between the Kurds and Israel is not a crime since many Arab countries have ties with the Jewish state.”
During a visit to Kuwait in 2006, Barzani went even further, stating that, “It is not a crime to have relations with Israel.
“If Baghdad established diplomatic relations with Israel, we could open a consulate in Erbil,” he was quoted as saying.