News & Politics

Israel's Defense Minister Slams Turkey: 'ISIS Enjoyed Turkish Money for Oil for a Very Long Time'

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, left, as he speaks during a visit to an army base near the Gush Etzion bloc of Jewish settlements in the West Bank Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. Netanyahu pledged to keep up Israel’s tough hand against Palestinians attackers. (Emil Salman/Pool via AP)

At the very moment Turkey and Israel agree to restore their diplomatic ties, Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon decides to pour some new oil on the (still lingering) fire:

Israel’s defense minister said on Tuesday that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants had been funded with ‘Turkish money’, an assertion that could hinder attempts to mend fences between the two countries after years of estrangement.”It’s up to Turkey, the Turkish government, the Turkish leadership, to decide whether they want to be part of any kind of cooperation to fight terrorism. This is not the case so far,” Moshe Yaalon told reporters in Athens.

“As you know, Daesh (ISIL) enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time. I hope that it will be ended,” Yaalon, a right-wing former armed forces chief, told reporters after meeting his Greek counterpart, Panos Kammenos.

Yaalon isn’t exactly the first person to point out that there seem to be ties between ISIS and Turkey. Russian president Vladimir Putin has done the same, and so have others. He could and should have said it months ago when the relationship between Turkey and Israel was still extremely sour. As it is now, the two countries are actually warming up to each other, which would be a blessing for the region, and to the West. After all, both Turkey and Israel are (officially) allies of the U.S. and Europe, with Turkey even being a NATO member.

I’m no fan of Turkish president Erdoğan — while I am a big supporter and admirer of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — but it’s important for him and Netanyahu to improve the strained relationship between their countries. I’d expect Yaalon to understand that too.

Apparently, he does not.