Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made his first public response to allegations of Israeli spying on the United States in an interview with Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg published Thursday.
Netanyahu emphatically denied reports in Newsweek in recent weeks that Israeli espionage in America was behind the US decision not grant visa waivers to Israelis.
"Israel has not conducted any espionage operations in the United States, period. Full stop,” he told Bloomberg.
Newsweek quoted US sources as saying Israel’s intelligence operations in the US are “unrivaled and unseemly,” extending to surveillance of senior White House officials.
The initial report was followed by one that detailed alleged US efforts to “cover up” Israel’s spying on then vice president Al Gore in 1998. It claimed that the US Secret Service caught an Israeli “agent” in an air duct in the process of bugging the vice president’s hotel room.
Netanyahu said that Israel had not conducted any espionage in the US. Not direct espionage, not indirect espionage, nothing, zero."
The prime minister also addressed the stalled peace process in the interview, saying that negotiations with the Palestinians remain his preference, but acknowledging that "the idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground, from the center-left to the center-right."