Netanyahu rejects claim PKK not terrorists, but supports Kurdish state

September 13, 2017 09:48

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his support for Kurdish independence during his visit to Buenos Aires.

2 minute read.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the House of the Argentinian president in Buenos Aires

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the House of the Argentinian president in Buenos Aires, September 12, 2017.. (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)

BUENOS AIRES – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu distanced himself on Tuesday from former IDF deputy chief of staff Yair Golan’s comment that the Kurdish PKK was not a terrorist organization, but for the second time in a month came out in favor of a Kurdish state.

Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region will hold a referendum on independence on September 25.

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“Israel rejects the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and considers it a terrorist organization,” Netanyahu said in a statement, “as opposed to Turkey, which supports the terror organization Hamas.

While Israel rejects terror in any form, it supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the House of the Argentinian president in Buenos Aires, September 12, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Last week Golan, in a question and answer period following a speech he delivered at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that from his personal perspective “the PKK is not a terrorist organization.”

Furthermore, he said that he “very much” likes the idea of an independent Kurdistan, saying that “we’ve had good cooperation with the Kurdish people since the early 1960s.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Argentina

Looking at the Middle East today, he continued, “I would say that the only positive development concerning the destiny of the Middle East is the emergence of some sort of Kurdish entity – independent entity.”

The US and the EU have classified the PKK as a terrorist organization, and since 1984 it has killed more than 40,000 people in attacks against both civilian and military targets.

Golan has caused waves with his comments in the past, most memorably on Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2016 when he said Israeli society was showing similar trends to those seen in pre-war Germany before the Nazis took over in the 1930s.

Last month Netanyahu told a delegation of visiting US Republicans that he was is in favor of an independent Kurdish state in parts of Iraq.

Netanyahu expressed his “positive attitude” toward a Kurdish state in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, saying the Kurds are a “brave, pro-Western people who share our values.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with US Congress delegation, August 10, 2017.  (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Netanyahu does not frequently address the Kurdish issue, which is a politically highly sensitive one because the traditional US position – at least until US President Donald Trump took office in January – was that Iraq should remain a united state and not be broken up into separate parts.

Furthermore, a Kurdish state is a red flag for Turkey, which is concerned that such a development would stir up independence yearnings among its own Kurdish population.

Up until last month, Netanyahu had not spoken publicly about the issue since 2014 when he said during a speech that Israel should “support the Kurdish aspiration for independence.”

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