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Western powers press Iraq Kurd leaders to shelve "very risky" independence vote

Iraq Prime Minister Haider al Abadi

The Iraqi parliament voted by a majority to remove Karim after the local government in the province chose to join the Kurdish referendum, less than two weeks from now. But the statement said Israel "supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own".

The decision to remove Najmaddin Kareem came after Kirkuk - claimed by both the central government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq - voted to take part in a referendum set for September 25 on Kurdish independence.

Since the KRG announced its plan to hold the referendum, most Western powers, including the United States and European Union, have voiced concerns that the poll could ignite a new round of conflict between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan, threatening regional stability and distracting from the fight against terrorism.

Turkey, Iran and Iraq's central government are all opposed to the vote.

Iraqi neighbors - Turkey, Iran and Syria - oppose the referendum, fearing that it could fuel separatist moods among their own Kurdish minorities. He also denied that his party has voted against holding the independence vote in Kirkuk.

This is not the first time Netanyahu has voiced support for an independent Kurdish state - he backed the Kurds' "aspirations for independence" in a speech in 2014.

Karim said the US Envoy encouraged him to keep calm after the today's vote to remove him.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry, in a statement on Thursday, said: 'We find the (Iraqi Kurdish) leadership's insistent stance regarding the referendum and its increasingly emotional statements worrying.

The move came after Iraq's parliament voted to remove the governor of Kirkuk, a staunch supporter of Kurdish independence.

"He [McGurk] called me saying that "this is a wrong decision" and that they know that this decision should not have taken place".

Meanwhile, the leader of the Kurdish region of Iraq, Massoud Barzani, said the referendum is "a natural right".

Hussein al-Maliki says that all Kurdish lawmakers boycotted Thursday's session, while Arab lawmakers voted in favor.

They regard the city, just outside their Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, as their historical capital.