Israel becomes first state to back an independent Kurdistan

Israel supports the establishment of a Kurdish state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, as Kurds in Iraq gear up for a referendum on independence that lawmakers in Baghdad oppose.

Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence and business ties with the Kurds since the 1960s, viewing the minority ethnic group – whose indigenous population is split between Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran – as a buffer against shared Arab adversaries.

Other nations have been reluctant to support Kurdish independence, fearing it will introduce another source of instability into a fragile region.