Moshe Yaalon
Moshe YaalonFlash 90

Israeli ex-defense minister Moshe Ya'alon accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday of seeking a neo-Ottoman empire" while warning of growing instability in the Middle East.

Ya'alon, seeking to build a campaign to become Israel's next prime minister, spoke of his concerns while addressing regional issues in a meeting with foreign journalists.

The ex-minister accused Erdogan of pursuing "hegemony by establishing (a) neo-Ottoman empire using the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, not just within Turkey".

He also accused NATO-member Turkey of working against Western interests.

His comments came with Turkey and the European Union undergoing an explosive crisis after key EU members the Netherlands and Germany blocked Turkish ministers from holding rallies to back constitutional changes expanding Erdogan's powers.

Ya'alon named Turkey under Erdogan as one of three "radical" elements seeking to expand their influence in the Middle East, also mentioning Iran and jihadists such as the Islamic State group.

He said he believed the situation had evolved in that way because of what he called former US president Barack Obama's administration's decision to "disengage" from the Middle East.

"And the vacuum has been filled by these three elements struggling for hegemony in the region," he said.