Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu) said Saturday that "it is time that we stop deluding ourselves about Turkey and understand that it is not interested in having better [diplomatic] relations with Israel."
The statement, posted on Lieberman's Facebook page, was made in the wake of a Washington Post report suggesting that Turkey had exposed an Israeli spy ring in Iran.
"I was opposed to Israel's apology to Turkey because I thought -- as I do now -- that it would not yield any improvement in the relations between the two nations, and that it would only undermine Israel's position in the region and play into the hands of the radical elements in the Middle East, including [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, who is a radical Islamist," Lieberman wrote, referring to Jerusalem's apology to Ankara over the 2010 raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish nationals.
Reinforcing Lieberman's comments, a senior diplomatic official in Jerusalem told Army Radio on Sunday, "We have no doubt that Erdogan is not interested in peace and reconciliation with Israel."
Turkey, for its part, has blamed Israel for leaking the information to The Washington Post. "We see this media campaign as an attack and there might be an Israeli effort behind it," a Turkish intelligence source was quoted as saying by the Turkish daily Hurriyet.
According to the report, the leak was meant to discredit Hakan Fidan, Turkey's intelligence chief, who The Washington Post named as the person who exposed the spy ring. The Hurriyet said that the report was part of an anti-Turkey campaign that started with an Oct. 9 Wall Street Journal report alleging that Fidan was "acting independently" on matters relating to Syria, jeopardizing Western interests in the region.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu backed Fidan, telling local media that he was "accused of forming an independent intelligence gathering system and of not allowing foreign intelligence services to operate in Turkey. In other words, Fidan is accused of doing his job."
Davutoglu further claimed that the reports were meant to apply psychological pressure on Ankara, to force it to change its foreign policy.
Commenting on the Turkish foreign minister's remarks, Lieberman said: "Saying that Israel is behind these reports as a ploy to avoid paying restitution to the participants of the Marmara flotilla, is a baseless accusation -- just like the one suggesting Israel was behind the Taksim riots," he said, referring to the wave of civil unrest that swept Istanbul in June, and which some senior Turkish politicians blamed on Diaspora Jews and Israel.
"This proves that Turkey has no interest in improving its relations with Israel. We have to stop fooling ourselves and understand the reality in which we live, as well as the difference between what is real and what is ideal."