COP26: Bennett promises Macron transparency after NSO leak

Pegasus is sold with permission from the Defense Ministry, and Macron complained to Israel after his name was found on the list. Israel promised to investigate the matter.

 PM Naftali Bennett meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Glasgow (photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)
PM Naftali Bennett meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Glasgow
(photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

GLASGOW - Israel will be transparent with France, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett promised French President Emmanuel Macron, following allegations that software from Israeli-owned cybersecurity company NSO may have been used to hack Macron’s phone.

The two leaders discussed the matter in their meeting at the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow on Monday, agreeing to continue to deal with it discreetly, a diplomatic source said.

Bennett and Macron also agreed to move forward and continue to strengthen cooperation between their countries.

In July, a database featuring thousands of phone numbers alleged to be targets of NSO’s Pegasus software leaked to several media outlets. Among the numbers was Macron’s personal cell phone, as well as those of several other French cabinet members, which may have been targets of Morocco’s security services. NSO denies any connection to the list.

Pegasus is sold with permission from the Defense Ministry, and Macron complained to Israel after his name was found on the list. Israel promised to investigate the matter.

 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as he arrives for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 1, 2021. (credit: ALASTAIR GRANT/POOL VIA REUTERS) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as he arrives for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 1, 2021. (credit: ALASTAIR GRANT/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Bennett and Macron held a one-on-one meeting, where they discussed challenges in the Middle East, foremost of which was Iran’s advanced enrichment of uranium in recent months.

France was party to the 2015 nuclear deal and supports resuming negotiations to rejoin it, as does the UK, whose Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to meet with Bennett later Monday.

Iran also came up in Bennett’s meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the UN Climate Conference. Bennett asked Morrison to call for a strong condemnation of Iran at the upcoming International Atomic Energy Agency’s upcoming board of governors meeting, set for later this month.

The prime minister also said Australia should designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Australia, like the EU, only banned part of Hezbollah - its External Security Organization - but not the Lebanese terrorist group in its entirety.

The matter was discussed in Australia’s parliament earlier this year, when a commission recommended proscribing all of Hezbollah, and is expected to come up in Canberra again.

Bennett invited Morrison and his wife to visit Israel. He said Australia is a “great friend and big supporter” of Israel and saying he hopes to strengthen ties between the countries.

As for climate, at the opening of the meeting, Bennett pointed out that both Australia and Israel committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“This does not have to be a political subject; it’s not a matter of Left and Right,” Bennett stated. “It is about our future.”

Bennett said that as the “Start-Up Nation,” Israel has a role in finding technological solutions for climate change.