Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shot back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for saying the Mossad had a hand in the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum last week, saying it was understandable why Hamas supporters see the Mossad in all “uncomfortable situations.”Erdogan’s Turkey actively supports Hamas.Speaking before Sunday morning’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that Israel was not involved in the Iraqi Kurdish referendum.“Regarding recent remarks about Israel and the people in Kurdistan,” Netanyahu said, “I understand why those who support Hamas want to see the Mossad everywhere that is uncomfortable for them. But Israel had no part in the Kurdish referendum, except for the deep, natural sympathy that the people of Israel have had for many years for the Kurdish people and their aspirations.”Erdogan again went on the warpath against Israel on Saturday, saying the waving of Israeli flags at celebrations of the Kurdistan vote for independence proved the Mossad’s involvement.“This shows one thing, that this administration [in northern Iraq] has a history with Mossad, they are hand-in-hand together,” he said.
Turkey is adamantly opposed to the Iraqi Kurdish move, concerned of the impact it will have on its own large Kurdish population.“Are you aware of what you are doing?” Erdogan said in an appeal to Iraqi Kurdish leaders. “Only Israel supports you.”This is the second time in a week that Erdogan lashed out at Israel over the Iraqi Kurdistan vote.Last Tuesday Erdogan threatened to halt steps being taken toward normalization with Israel if it does not end its support for an independent Kurdish state.“If Israel does not reconsider its support for Kurdish independence, Turkey will not be able to take many steps we would have with Israel, too,” he said.Israel and Turkey renewed full diplomatic relations at the end of last year, following a six-year break in full ties because of the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident in which a flotilla tried to break the naval blockade of Gaza, leaving nine Turks dead.Netanyahu was the only leader in the region to endorse the referendum.Last month, during a meeting in Jerusalem with a delegation of Republican congressmen, he expressed a “positive attitude” toward a Kurdish state in the Kurdish areas of Iraq.He said the Kurds were a “brave, pro-Western people who share our values.”Erdogan said Turkey would initiate political, economic, commercial and security steps against the Kurdistan Regional Government in response to the referendum.“A referendum was conducted in northern Iraq and only supported by Israel,” Erdogan said.“Who will recognize your independence? Israel. The world is not about Israel.”At the time, neither Netanyahu nor the foreign ministry responded to Erdogan’s comments.
An Israeli flag enters Erbil, Iraq, on the day of the Kurdish independence referendum on September 25, 2017