Is­rael stays shtum over US ‘spy­ing’

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

THE OF­FI­CIAL Is­raeli re­sponse to al­le­ga­tions in the Wall Street Jour­nal that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama or­dered the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency (NSA) to spy on Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu as he dis­cussed the nu­clear deal with Iran has been muted.

The aim of the NSA op­er­a­tion was ap­par­ently to counter the Is­raeli prime min­is­ter’s ef­forts to pre­vent the US and other Western pow­ers from sign­ing a deal with Iran, which he be­lieves is dis­as­trous for Is­rael’s se­cu­rity.

Ac­cord­ing to the WSJ, Is­raeli of­fi­cials “co-or­di­nated talk­ing points with Jewish-Amer­i­can groups against the deal and asked un­de­cided law­mak­ers what it would take to win their votes”.

Is­rael’s Trans­port and In­tel­li­gence Af­fairs Min­is­ter Yis­rael Katz ini­tially said that if the es­pi­onage al­le­ga­tions were true, Is­rael must lodge a protest. Shortly af­ter­wards, how­ever, the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice or­dered all min­is­ters and of­fi­cials to re­frain from talk­ing about the re­port.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials were un­sure on how to re­spond to the spy­ing al­le­ga­tions be­cause it was not clear whether the sources leak­ing the story to the WSJ had been aim­ing to sour Is­rael-US re­la­tions or to cause do­mes­tic dam­age to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. The claims that the NSA had been lis­ten­ing in on con­ver­sa­tions of Sen­a­tors and Con­gress­mem­bers has sparked wide­spread crit­i­cism of the White House in the US.

Since the Jonathan Pol­lard case in the mid-1980s, Is­rael has in­sisted that it does not spy on the US in any way. How­ever, for­mer Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials have ac­cused Is­rael of car­ry­ing out var­i­ous forms of es­pi­onage on US tar­gets. What­ever the re­al­ity, Is­rael is not in­ter­ested in draw­ing at­ten­tion to this sen­si­tive as­pect of its strate­gic re­la­tions with Amer­ica.

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