Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) on Thursday during a visit to Switzerland told reporters that the rapprochement talks with Turkey are unlikely to succeed, because Ankara is refusing to address Israel's demand that it stop supporting the Hamas terrorist organization.
Speaking even as a new round of normalization talks began in Geneva on Thursday, Ya'alon said, "I'm not sure that we'll reach an agreement."
"The Turks need to agree to our conditions so that we can get over the obstacles and reach a political agreement," he said. "Turkey is hosting senior Hamas officials in Istanbul, and we are not ready to accept that. The Turks support Hamas generally through the Muslim Brotherhood and that must be discussed."
The close ties with Hamas were shown again on Saturday, when Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke at a conference in Ankara calling to "liberate Jerusalem" with "armed struggle."
Turkey has also demanded that Israel's legal naval blockade on Hamas in Gaza be lifted. It is currently planning a $5 billion project to rebuild Gaza, and prime among the plans is a major seaport for the Hamas enclave. Israel has firmly opposed such a seaport, given the blatant danger of it being used to smuggle in weapons.
Ya'alon elaborated on the history of bilateral ties, saying, "in the past, Turkey and Israel enjoyed strategic relations until the elections in which (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan was elected in 2002."
"Since then Israel did not initiate an escalation in relations, and it was the initiative of Erdogan and Turkey to disrupt the relations between the countries."
"Maybe they just want to buy gas"
The minister referenced the infamous 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, when IDF soldiers were forced to board the Turkish ship that had ignored repeated warnings to stop its attempt to breach the maritime blockade on Gaza.
The soldiers were brutally attacked by IHH Islamist extremists on board wielding knives and metal bars, and had no choice but to open fire, killing ten of the IHH members on board. After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid, despite the flotilla's claims that it was on a "humanitarian" mission.
"Until the Marmara incident we tried to settle the dispute," said Ya'alon.
"I led delegations for an agreement but it failed. We tried again and again, and recently again, and recently a month of negotiations, maybe because of the Turkish conflict with Russia and maybe because of the (natural) gas that had been promised to Turkey by Russia that likely won't be provided to them, maybe because of that they turned to us," he said.
Ya'alon concluded, saying, "we are prepared for an agreement, but we also have our conditions."
Aside from interest in buying natural gas from Israel as Russia sanctions it over shooting down a Russian warplane, Turkey is primarily interested in rapprochement so as to buy Israeli military hardware, according to Turkish defense officials quoted last December.
Israel's normalization talks with Turkey have caused outrage in Egypt, where officials have urged Israel not to normalize ties.