KRG officials express concern for Palestine, continue to deal with Israel

Statements expressing “Concern for Palestine”

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani made a statement about the recent violence between Israel and Palestine.

Speaking on his social media account, Nechirvan Barzani said, “We are very concerned about the violence between Israelis and Palestinians that cost the lives of civilians, including children, and targets holy places.”

Nechirvan Barzani called for a peaceful solution to settle the events.

We are very concerned about the recent violence between Israelis and Palestinians that claimed the lives of civilians, including children, and targeted holy sites. We call for restraint and a peaceful solution for the current unrest.

– Nechirvan Barzani (@IKRPresident) May 12, 2021


Kurdish leader, Masoud Barzani on Friday 15 May, expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people amid the Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip.

A statement by the Palestinian Consulate in the Kurdistan region reported that the Consul General of the State of Palestine, Nazmi Hazouri, received a letter from the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Masoud Barzani, by the official delegate, Deputy Speaker of the Kurdish Parliament, Hemin Hawrami. The Palestinian consulate was opened in 2011 by Massoud Barzani.

The letter which is addressed to the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, showed solidarity with the Palestinians “amid the crisis they face and the distressful events in Jerusalem.”

Barzani directed to the Palestinians, “Our hearts are with you.”

For his part, the Palestinian Consul thanked the Kurdish delegate for his visit and for the letter that includes “the meanings of brotherhood and solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Mahmoud Abbas and Massoud Barzani

The Gaza health ministry said at least 197 Palestinians of which 58 children, 29 women, had been killed. 2235 were wounded. Israel disputed that account in a controversial statement, saying it had killed at least 20 Hamas fighters and that a third of the hundreds of rockets launched by militants had fallen short, causing Palestinian civilian casualties.

The violence began with protests on the forced eviction of 28 Palestinian families from their homes in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, and confrontations between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at al Aqsa Mosque, a compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and third holiest place, in the heart of Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

KDP authorities did not allow its citizens to rally for Palestine.

Yet, statements issue by both Nechirvan Barzani and Massoud Barzani are quite the improvement. Until today, the Barzani family has always refrained to comment on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

KDP, KRG and Israel

Relationships between Kurdish factions, especially KDP, and Israel go back a long time.

Israeli-Kurdish ties go back a long way. First minister Ben Gurion developed a policy called the ‘Periphery doctrine’ in an attempt to form alliances with non-Arab nations throughout the Middle East, that would help them face the Arab opposition to the formation of the Israeli state. The policy targetted non-Arab nations such as the Kurds, Iran and Turkey. Over the time, Iran has become Israel’s worst nightmare instead of a possible ally, and Turkey a country it has relations with, but can’t rely on. The Arab states, on the other hand, have started to normalize its relations with Israel and do not longer strongly oppose it. What remains of the policy today, are the good relations between Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Israel has been in contact with Melle Mustafa Barzani since the 60’s, and has supported, financed and armed the KDP since then. Mustafa Barzani officially visited Israel twice, once in 1968 and once in 1973. It is said that in 1968, Barzani visited the territories of occupied Palestine, that Israel conquered by its bloody war waged on the Palestinians in 1967. Barzani has reportedly congratulated Israel on the outcome.

Mustafa Barzani in Israel, 1968.

Israel was the only country to openly support the Kurdish independence referandum in 2017. Israel celebrated the outcome of the referendum held on September 25th, 2017, in which an overwhelming majority of the Iraqi Kurds voted for breaking away from Baghdad. As the Iraqi Kurds cast the ballots, Israeli citizens were celebrating in the streets, and Israeli flags were waved all across the Kurdish region.

Besides holding a foot on the ground in hostile territory and gathering intelligence, Israel has other reasons to support the Iraqi Kurds. At the time of the referendum, Israel imported three-thirds of its oil supplies from Iraqi Kurdistan. These imports were extremely important for Israel, as it did not have access to the oil-rich Gulf states. 70% of Kurdistan’s oil is being exported to Israel, making Israel the region’s top sponsor.


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