Kurdish people carry the Kurdish and the Israeli flags in the streets of the northern city of Kirkuk on September 25, 2017 following a referendum on the independence. Photo: AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Sunday that Tel Aviv did not play any role in the Kurdish referendum that saw a 92-percent vote for independence on Monday.
Netanyahu’s comments come after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Israeli intelligence service Mossad of playing a role in the Kurdish vote.
"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, Israel’s Haaretz reported.
He continued to say that he understands why "those who support Hamas tend to see the Mossad" where it suits them, making reference to Erdogan's comment whose country publicly support Hamas, a named terrorist organization by Israel and the United States.
PM Netanyahu became the first world leader to support the Kurdish referendum on September 13, less than two weeks before the vote.
He said at the time that Israel “ supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”
Some Kurdish people who supported the independence vote raised the flags of Israel, and other countries such as the United States and even Turkey, at the referendum rallies held both here in the Kurdistan Region and also abroad, including in the capital Erbil. This was despite clear instructions from the Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and the High Referendum Council that no flag other than the Kurdish flag should feature at such events.
Kurdish people raise the flags of Kurdistan, United Kingdom, and Turkey in an event supporting the Kurdish vote. Photo: Rudaw video
Erdogan said on Saturday that raising the flags of Israel at such events proved that Israel was involved.
"This shows one thing, that this administration [the Kurdish leadership in northern Iraq] has a history with Mossad, they are hand-in-hand together,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by AFP.
Video shows a pro-independence rally in Duhok on September 27, 2017 with people waving the flags of Kurdistan, the Unites States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and European Union.