Defense Minister Ya'alon: 'ISIS Enjoyed Turkish Money for Oil'

Comments come as Israel and Turkey are trying to mend ties after years of animosity.

Moti Milrod

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Tuesday that Turkey supports terror instead of combating it, permitting ISIS to enjoy "Turkish money for oil." He said that normalizing fraught relations between Israel and Turkey was contingent on Ankara's ceasing these activities, in comments that could hinder attempts to mend fences between the two countries. 

Speaking after a meeting with his Greek counterpart, Panos Kammenos, Ya'alon said that "Daesh (Islamic State) enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time. I hope that it will be ended," he said, adding that Istanbul has become "Hamas' terror headquarters outside of Gaza."

The defense minister continued, even saying that Turkey had "permitted jihadists to move from Europe to Syria and Iraq and back, as part of Daesh's terrorist network."

Ya'alon said that "It's up to Turkey, the Turkish government, the Turkish leadership, to decide... should all these stop, and Turkey will be willing to reconcile with us, then Turkey can be part of the collaborative regional effort to fight terror – instead of supporting it."

According to the defense minister, despite past good relations between the two countries, the Turkish government has chosen to deteriorate relations with Jerusalem, with the Gaza flotilla being "the highet of provocation."

Ya'alon said that destroying "ISIS will take time, but it is possible," explaining that "ISIS is in Syria, Iraq, [Egypt's] Sinai, Libya, and their murderous ideology is now everywhere, including Western nations in which terrorists inspired by ISIS launch terror attacks."

Israel and Greece regularly hold joint military exercises, usually with their respective air forces and navies. Ya'alon and Greek Defense Minister Kammenos even signed a joint statement regarding the two Mediterranean countries cooperation. 

Turkey has denied permitting oil smuggling by the Islamist militant group, which holds swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. The United States last month rejected Russian allegations that the Turkish government and President Tayyip Erdogan's family were in league with Islamic State to smuggle oil. 

However, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said last month that ISIS was selling oil to middlemen who in turn were involved in smuggling the oil across the frontier to Turkey. 

Efforts by Israel and Turkey to normalize ties hit a setback this month when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there was no agreement on Ankara's demands for compensation for the deaths of 10 Turkish activists on an aid ship in 2010 or for an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza. 

Senior Israeli and Turkish officials met in December to try to repair relations, raising hopes of progress in negotiations to import Israeli natural gas, particularly since Turkey's relationship with Russia has worsened over the Syria conflict.