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.
Other nations have been reluctant to support Kurdish independence, fearing it will introduce another source of instability into a fragile region.
On Tuesday, Iraq’s Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said he would press ahead with the September 25 referendum despite a vote by Iraq’s parliament rejecting it.
“(Israel) supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state,” Mr Netanyahu said, in remarks sent to foreign correspondents by his office.
Western powers are concerned a plebiscite in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region – including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk – could divert attention from the war against Islamic State militants.
Mr Netanyahu, who is due to address the UN General Assembly on September 19, voiced support for “the Kurds’ aspirations for independence” in a speech in 2014, saying they deserve “political independence”.
His latest remarks appeared to be a more direct endorsement of the creation of a Kurdish state.
Kurds have sought an independent state since at least the end of World War One, when colonial powers divided up the Middle East after the collapse of the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire.