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Netanyahu backs partitioning Iraq for Kurdish state

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem al-Quds on August 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed interest in partitioning Iraq and establishing an independent Kurdish state in the Arab country during a meeting with a delegation of 33 US Republican congressmen.

The Israeli premier expressed his “positive attitude” toward a Kurdish state in the northern areas of Iraq, saying the Kurds are a “brave, pro-Western people who share our values,” a source who participated in the meeting held on Thursday said, the Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

Netanyahu does not frequently speak publicly about the politically highly sensitive issue which also worries Turkey.

The last time Netanyahu addressed the issue publicly was in 2014 when he said in a speech that Israel should “support the Kurdish aspiration for independence.”

This file photo taken on August 20, 2015 shows a man sewing an Iraqi Kurdish flag bearing a portrait of Iraqi Kurdistan president Massud Barzani, in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. (Photo by AFP)

The news comes about two months after Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani warned about bids to break up Iraq, saying the Arab country’s partitioning serves the interests of Israel.

"The Zionist regime seeks Iraq's disintegration,” Larijani said during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Tehran on June 21.

Israel has a longstanding relationship with the Kurds, whom it regards as one of the few non-Arab allies in the area.

A report published in the New Yorker magazine in 2004 said Israeli military and intelligence operatives were active in Kurdish areas and providing training for commando units.

According to the report, Israel has been expanding its presence in Kurdistan and encouraging Kurds, its allies in the region, to create an independent state.

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