Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Tuesday called for the formation of an independent Kurdistan, and urged an enhanced policy of cooperation between Israel and the Kurds.
“We must openly call for the establishment of a Kurdish state that separates Iran from Turkey, one which will be friendly towards Israel,” Shaked said at the annual INSS security conference in Tel Aviv.
Although there are approximately 30 million Kurds in the Middle East, forming minority populations in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, there has never been a modern independent Kurdish state.
“The Kurdish people are a partner for the Israeli people,” she said noting the shared interests of Israel and the Kurds in defeating the rise of jihadist Islamist groups in the region.
“The Kurds are an ancient, democratic, peace-loving people that have never attacked any country,” she said, adding that economic cooperation should be on the forefront of any official ties.
“It is time to help them,” Shaked added.
Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan, the only semi-autonomous Kurdish region, don’t have official diplomatic ties, though there are numerous claims that cooperation exists between the two governments, as well as between businesses and the militaries.
In 2014 policy speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed support for an independent Kurdistan. He praised their “political commitment and political moderation,” and said the Kurdish people were “worthy of their own political independence.”
In her address, Shaked went on to say the Palestinian Authority was “spearheading” the current wave of violence against Israelis, and was supported by information supplied by left-wing human rights organizations such as B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.
Shaked has been a proponent of a controversial bill which would require NGOs who receive more than half of their funding from foreign governments to wear identifying tags while operating in the Knesset.
“The damage they cause is severe, and they hinder Israel’s ability to defend itself,” she charged.
The justice minister called the left wing groups sponsors of “state terror” for their “efforts to slander the name of Israel from the inside and out.”