Israeli officials deny the country is spying on Donald Trump - report

According to Politico, a US government investigation concluded that Jerusalem was behind several devices that were uncovered in Washington.

By
September 14, 2019 20:39
2 minute read.
US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington in March.

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington in March.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israeli officials are strongly denying allegations that Israel planted surveillance devices in the proximity of the White House and in other sensitive locations in Washington, as was reported by Politico on Thursday.

"A blatant lie," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. "There is a longstanding commitment, and a directive from the Israeli government, not to engage in any intelligence operations in the US. This directive is strictly enforced without exception."

Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who is also intelligence minister, also categorically denied the report.

"Israel does not conduct any spying operation in the US," he said in a statement. "The US and Israel share a great deal of intelligence information and act together to prevent threats and to strengthen the security of both countries."

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, the executive director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies and former head of IDF Military Intelligence claimed that "Nobody is going to invest intelligence resources in a country where you can make a phone call to its president. I regard this as fake news."

According to Politico, a US government investigation concluded that Israel was behind several devices that were uncovered in the past two years, most likely aimed at spying on US President Donald Trump, his closest circle and other government officials. 

The American paper added that the FBI and other agencies working on the case believe that Israel is to be blamed because of the high level of know-how and budget needed for the operation.

"You can often, depending upon the tradecraft of the people who put them in place, figure out who's been accessing them to pull the data off the devices," a former senior US intelligence official told Politico.

"It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible," another former senior intelligence official said.

According to the paper, a number of so-called "StingRays" were found in DC. StingRays are phone trackers designed to track phones even when they are not being used to make a call.

The report added that the Trump administration chose not to hold the Israeli government accountable.

"The reaction... was very different than it would have been in the last administration," an official told Politico. "With the current administration, there are a different set of calculations in regard to addressing this."

Blue and White's Yair Lapid responded that he supported Netanyahu on CNN on the alleged spying story and then Netanyahu blamed Blue and White.

"Beyond the lies, where is his national responsibility?" Lapid asked. "The man has lost his mind."


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