Moshe Yaalon (file)
Moshe Yaalon (file) Israel news photo: Flash 90

Vice premier Moshe Ya'alon called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan out Wednesday, saying Ankara is consorting with terrorists.

"How can you trust a government that consorts with Iran and Hamas?" Ya'alon asked during a speech on Tuesday. "Since his government rose to power, Turkey has decided to turn east instead of west. Turkey turned into an Islamic republic from a secular republic."

Relations between Turkey and Israel reached a new low Tuesday after Erdogan said Anakra would cut all defense-related trade with Israel and was considering "further sanctions."

Erdogan's latest rhetoric came just days after announcing Israel's top level diplomats would have to leave Turkey by Wednesday.

Ya'alon dismissed whether the current diplomatic tensions between Jerusalem and Ankara were truly centered on whether Israel should apologize for the 2010 incident on board the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed.

"We are talking about a phenomenon that goes beyond this specific incident," Ya'alon said. "The goal is to defeat the State of Israel. If anyone thinks that one word can settle the matter, they fail to understand."

Ya'alon, who was involved in efforts to bring about reconciliation between Turkey and Israel, added that "what happened during the flotilla was without a doubt a Turkish provocation."

According to Ya'alon, "We had no intention of ending the incident with fatalities but the soldiers had no other choice but to defend themselves. The result was not good and we tried to resolve the crisis later on."

Ya'alon also countered criticism voiced by Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni against the conduct of Netanyahu's government in handling the current diplomatic crisis.

"Israel is not at fault for the situation with Turkey. I regret hearing the Opposition chairwoman say that the absence of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks led to the situation with Turkey. Whoever says that in an interview is asking for outside pressure. Perhaps he fails to understand or perhaps he is driven by political interests."

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