Jerusalem Post — June 26, 2016
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday that Islamic State militants had been funded with “Turkish money,” an assertion that could hinder attempts to mend fences between the two countries after years of estrangement.
“I hope that relations with Turkey improve and [Ankara] will be part of the fight against terror,” Ya’alon said while on a visit to Athens.
“Israel and Turkey enjoyed very good relations in the past, and unfortunately, the Turkish government chose to deteriorate the ties between Israel and Turkey. The height of this was the provocation on the Marmara flotilla,” he added.
Ya’alon said that Turkey had, up to this point, not taken part in the war on terror. “Daesh [ISIS] has enjoyed Turkish money through Turkish oil purchases from them for a very long time. I hope it will stop,” Ya’alon accused.
He also accused Turkey of allowing jihadists to move from Europe to Syria and Iraq, and back, where they have become part of the terror infrastructure in Europe.
Ya’alon said that Turkey has also continued to allow Hamas to hold its headquarters abroad in Istanbul.
“If all of these phenomena stop, and Turkey will be prepared to restore ties with us, then Turkey will be part of the regional cooperation in the war on terror, rather than aiding terror.” Ya’alon said.
This is not the first time that allegations of benefiting from ISIS oil have been brought against Turkey. Russia’s Defense Ministry said in February of 2015 that it had proof that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his family were benefiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq.
The ministry also alleged that the same criminal networks which were smuggling oil from Islamic State-held areas into Turkey were also supplying weapons, equipment and training to the militant group.
Ya’alon’s comments came as progress had been reported in efforts to restore ties between Turkey and Israel in recent weeks.
Last month, Erdogan said that normalizing ties with Israel has a lot to offer to us, to Israel, to Palestine and also to the region. The region needs this.”