Lavrov and Trump.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Top former Israeli officials reacted with alarm to the report that US President Donald Trump leaked intel on ISIS to Russia, denouncing it in a move that broke the diplomatic facade.
The officials called Trump’s alleged leak to Russia, reportedly of Israeli intelligence on ISIS, deeply troubling, breaking with the government line of maintaining a face-saving show of unity with the embattled Trump administration.
The majority of government officials, including Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief and current Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter, tried to play down the incident by emphasizing the strength of US-Israel intelligence sharing. They also stressed that leaders of both countries are known for their discretion regarding issues of intelligence sharing.
However, many former officials were less sanguine.
This included former officials who had withheld judgment earlier on Tuesday, in the hope that Israel was not involved, before an avalanche of reports that the leaked intelligence had indeed come from Israel.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman reacted to the reports on Wednesday morning, taking to Twitter to say that security relations with the country’s principal ally remain intact.
Liberman did not directly address the intelligence leak saga in his tweet, but did say that “the security relationship between Israel and our greatest ally the United States is deep, significant and unprecedented in volume and in their contribution to our strength.”
He then concluded with: “So it has been and so it shall continue.”
Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said, “I have complete confidence in the American intelligence community.
US officials: Trump revealed intelligence secrets to Russia (credit: REUTERS)
Intelligence cooperation between Israel and the United States regarding the threats posed by Iran and its proxies and ISIS and its affiliates will continue and deepen.”
Dermer reacted in the same vein on Tuesday, when The New York Times first released its report. The ambassador told the Times in an emailed statement that “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence- sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump.”
According to the Times, two US officials, one current and one former, said that Trump shared intelligence supplied by Israel in the fight against Islamic State with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, during an Oval Office meeting last Wednesday.
And while past and present security officials are divided over the gravity of the alleged leak, a report released by ABC News on Wednesday said that Trump’s intelligence leak has jeopardized the life of an agent who was placed inside ISIS by Israel.
The spy was sent to track an ISIS plot to bring down passenger jets en route to the US with bombs hidden in a laptop computer that US officials think could get through airport screening machines unnoticed.
Israeli officials have yet to comment on the ABC report.
Some former top US officials, including those who have criticized Trump in the past, declined to comment, due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Jerusalem Post staff and Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.