MK pushes Israel to recognize Kurdistan as an independent state

Likud MK Yoav Kisch's motion comes in response to rising tensions between Israel and Turkey.

May 21, 2018 12:26
1 minute read.
Israelis from Kurdish origin take part in a rally in support of the Kurdish referendum outside the A

Israelis from Kurdish origin take part in a rally in support of the Kurdish referendum outside the American consulate in Jerusalem September 24, 2017. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)

Israel should back Kurdish statehood, MK Yoav Kisch proposed in a motion to the Knesset’s agenda this week, amid tensions with Turkey.

“Facing Iran’s strengthening in the region, Turkey’s extremism and the dissolution of Syria, Israel must lead and support the Kurdish effort to establish an independent state” is the title of Kisch’s motion.

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The Likud MK’s proposal comes as diplomatic relations between Jerusalem and Ankara have soured, with Turkey withdrawing its ambassador in protest over Israel’s response to riots on the Gaza border, and Israel reacting in kind. Turkey has long persecuted its Kurdish minority and violently suppressed its political aspirations, and it engaged in an offensive against Afrin, a Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Syria, earlier this year.

Kisch explains in his motion that “the Kurds are an ethnic group of over 30 million people, with national aspirations. It is estimated that in the Kurdish region of Iraq, there are eight-10 million Kurds, and most of the other Kurds can be found nearby in the neighboring countries – Syria, Turkey and Iran.”
Turkey's operation in Syria's Kurdish-controlled Afrin region has "de facto" begun with cross-border shelling. (Reuters)

According to Kisch, Turkey is “distancing itself from the West and calling out against Israel, supporting terrorism and continuing to oppress the Kurds in its territory.”

As such, “recognizing an independent Kurdistan can be good for Israel’s interests,” Kisch said, adding: “There is a reason that Israel was the first to publicly congratulate moves toward Kurdish independence in northern Iraq.”

If the Knesset approves Kisch’s motion, the topic will likely be moved to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for further discussion.

The committee may, but is not required to, hold a vote on whether it supports Kurdish independence.

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