JERUSALEM – Israel's leader says the country supports Kurdish independence ahead of a key referendum on the matter.
In an announcement early Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office says Israel rejects the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and considers it a terrorist organization. However, the statement says Israel "supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own."
Iraq's Kurds plan to hold the referendum on Sept. 25 in three governorates that make up their self-ruled region as well as disputed areas that are controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad, including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.
Israel has long been sympathetic to the Kurds and becomes to first country to officially endorse them in the vote.