'We Won't Allow the Creation of a Second Israel,' Iraq Warns Ahead of Kurdistan Independence Vote

As the Kurdish referendum for independence nears, Iraqi VP's comment comes on the heels of Netanyahu's support for an independent Kurdistan

A man holds a Kurdish flag with a picture of Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani during a gathering to support next week's referendum in Iraq, at Martyrs Square in Downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. Iraq's Kurdish region plans to hold the referendum on Sept. 25 to gauge support for independence from Iraq for the autonomous region. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Hassan Ammar/AP

Iraq's vice president said on Sunday that his country “will not allow the creation of a second Israel in northern Iraq," in a reference to the Kurdish attempt to gain independence, a pro-Kurdish news site Rudaw reported Monday.

Iraq's Vice President Nouri al-Maliki made the comments to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Sliman.

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Ahead of the September 25 referendum on Kurdish independence from Iraq, a measure opposed by Iraqi lawmakers, Netanyahu declared his support for "the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve a state of their own," making Israel the only country to support the establishment of an independent Kurdistan.

>> Netanyahu, sole leader to endorse independent Kurdistan, hits back at Erdogan for supporting Hamas ■ Kurdistan independence: One day in September could wreak havoc in the Middle East | Analysis

A Kurdish man holds an Israeli and Kurdish flag during a rally to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 16, 2017.

Following Netanyahu's support for Kurdish national efforts, pro-government newspapers in Turkey falsely reported an alleged deal to settle 2000,000 Kurdish Jews in the newly independent Kurdistan, as Turkey ramped ups its warnings against a "yes" vote in the upcoming referendum.

The re-settlement plan, the false reports claimed, was hatched by Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani. A pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Sefak wrote that Barzani "received support only from Israel during the referendum process" and will utilize "help from Kurds of Jewish origin."

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.