Turkey has permitted the Islamic State to send trained terrorists into Europe and funded the group by buying its oil, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday, urging the country to join an alliance against terrorism.
Ankara “allowed the jihadists to move from Europe to Syria and Iraq and back home as part of the Daesh terror infrastructure in Europe,” the defense minister said, referring to Islamic State by its Arabic acronym. Turkey “still hosts the Hamas external [sic] terror headquarters in Istanbul,” Ya’alon said during a press conference in Athens.
The Islamic State has long profited from selling its oil to Turkey, Ya’alon said, and expressed the hope that Turkey “will join the countries that fight terrorism.”
“Hopefully, we’ll have Turkey on board. Israel and Turkey enjoyed [a] very good relationship in the past. Unfortunately the Turkish government decided to deteriorate and to escalate the situation between Israel and Turkey,” Ya’alon said in English during a press conference in Athens with Greek counterpart Panos Kammenos.
“Now it’s up to Turkey, the Turkish government and Turkish leadership to decide whether they want to be part of any kind of cooperation in fighting terrorism… this is not the case, so far as you probably know,” Ya’alon said. Islamic State has “enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time,” he said, expressing hope that this would end soon.
Ya’alon’s visit to Greece comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to meet with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts in Nicosia this week.
Russia also charged that Turkey is buying oil from IS, after Turkey downed a Russian jet that it said violated its airspace. Russia did not provide backing for its claims.
Ya’alon’s markedly bitter attack on Turkey comes at a time when Israel and Turkey are signaling that a restoration of long-frozen ties is imminent.
In mid-December, Israeli and Turkish officials held a secret meeting in Switzerland, at the end of which they announced a significant revival of a once strong relationship that has deteriorated in recent years.