The Kurdish European Society was invited to a conference in the Israeli parliament, Knesset, on 29 November, the date of the historical voting in the United Nations 70 years ago on the partition of Palestine in two states. The decision paved the way for the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
The conference was initiated by The International Legal Forum, an NGO in Jerusalem dedicated to promote justice, peace and equality in Israel and the Middle East. Ksenia Svetlova, a member of Knesset from the Zionist Union, chaired the conference with the Brussels based Kurdish civil society delegation.
Kahraman Evsen, president of the Kurdish European Society, told the audience that the society wants to promote the integration of the Kurdish community in Europe while supporting the Kurdish independence aspirations in Iraqi Kurdistan. “We live in a free society and must raise our voice.”
The conference garnered broad support across Israeli political parties from both the government coalition and the opposition parties. Speakers stressed the close relationship between the Jewish and Kurdish peoples and Israel’s support for Kurdish independence. “Israel, with a Kurdish-Jewish community, has both strategic and historical reasons to support Kurdistan.”
While the road to independence is difficult, Israel seems prepared to provide assistance to development and institution building in Iraqi Kurdistan. Tzipi Livni, a former minister of foreign affairs, said that Israel and the Kurds face the same threats in the region.
She declined to comment on the political situation but hinted that it had become more complicated after the Kurdish referendum on independence.
Ksenia Svetlova, with a background as journalist and Islamic and Middle East studies, told The Brussels Times, that she is proud that Israel was perhaps the only country to support the Kurdish referendum on independence. “I believe that our efforts in the current stage should be to focus on advancing our position in the American administration which opposed the referendum”.
Do you think that the Iraqi government and the Kurdish Regional Government can resolve their differences in negotiations and how should such a solution look like? “In fact, there is no other way for the parties to resolve their difficulties than in peaceful negotiations,” she replied. “It’s important to find the right power sharing formulation through mutual respect and understanding.”
She expressed disappointment with EU’s position on Kurdish independence. “EU supports the Palestinian cause and its national aspirations for independence. I believe that their support for Kurdish independence should be derived from that position. Either EU believes in the right to national self-determination or it doesn’t.”