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Kurdish Diplomat Firmly Denies Relations with Israel

Despite Israeli PM, FM and president's advances, KRG envoy says policy same as Iraq, which is still technically at war with Israel.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 7/4/2014, 11:27 AM

Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq (file)
Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq (file)
Reuters

Israel's political eschelon, including the prime minister, foreign minister and president, has been advocating for Kurdish independence in recent days - but one Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) diplomat has responded by firmly denying relations with Israel.

KRG envoy Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, who is located in London, gave an interview to Reuters on Friday, saying "Israel has its friends and its enemies, so it can work both ways. We are not coordinating with Israel. We are not responsible for statements made by other governments."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for independence for Iraq's Kurdistan region, where Kurdish peshmerga security forces have mobilized to fight against the Jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). ISIS on sunday declared a "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria, sparking calls for Kurdish autonomy in Iraq to counter the radical Islamist threat.

However, Rahman said the KRG's foreign policy is the same as Iraq's, which is still technically at war with Israel, noting "since the Iraqi government does not have relations with Israel, neither do we."

"There was a period - a short period - decades ago when there were relations. But it stopped," said the diplomatic, referring to relations in the 1960s. "In terms of any covert relationship - that does not exist. In terms of a formal relationship with Israel - that does not exist."

Rahman criticized the statements by Israeli leaders as being motivated by self-interests, saying "generally speaking, governments and political leaders put the interests of their own country first. These are statements that Israeli leaders are making without any input from us."

The cold water thrown by Rahman at Israeli advances mirrors a similar response two weeks ago, given to a report claiming that oil from a disputed independent Kurdish pipeline running through Turkey was set to be delivered to the Israeli port of Ashkelon.

Kurdish officials were quick to deny the reports the very same day, calling them "baseless and without evidence. These media reports are aimed at increasing tensions between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq’s federal government without relying on any evidence or truth."