WASHINGTON – Iran remains “the most significant threat” to global security, to Israel and to the US, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told his counterpart at the Pentagon on Wednesday.
The defense minister also said that, while Turkey is a member of NATO, it “sponsors terrorism against Israel.”
Turkey’s support for Hamas in Gaza was “cynical,” Ya’alon said.
Hamas now operates from “two terror headquarters: in Gaza and Istanbul,” he said.
US President Barack Obama has addressed the rise of anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement from Turkey in recent conversations with President Tayyip Erdogan.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel received Ya’alon with a hug and a small honor guard. Before traveling to the US, Ya’alon characterized his relationship with Hagel as a strong and personal.
Wednesday’s meeting had a broad agenda, spanning the threat of Islamic State, relations with Turkey and, first and foremost, the status of talks with Iran.
Negotiations between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program are set to finish on November 24.
“We are following the talks closely,” Ya’alon said, highlighting Jerusalem’s concerns over Tehran’s arming of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and its backing of Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.
An Israeli official in Washington told The Jerusalem Post this week that Israel would prefer the continuation of talks with Iran over a bad November agreement.
Israel seeks the thorough dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program, from centrifuge production and operation to research and development.
“No deal is better than a bad deal,” Ya’alon said.
On Islamic State, Ya’alon praised the efforts of the US-led coalition against the group, “a threat to the entire region that needs to be stopped.” He called Syria “chronically unstable” and said that its rehabilitation would be a “long process,” echoing the position of the Pentagon.
Ya’alon visited New York on Tuesday, where he met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over the reconstruction of Gaza.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.