The West is strangling Israel's cyber forces for fighting enemies - Shaked

The West is over-regulating Israel's cyber offensive sector and causing Israel to do the same, said Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

 Ayelet Shaked, Minister of the Interior. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Ayelet Shaked, Minister of the Interior.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The West is strangling Israel’s cyber forces’ capabilities for fighting its enemies in the digital sphere, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Sunday.

Speaking at the International Institute for Counterterrorism (ICT) conference in Herzliya, she said, “We need to make sure that we do not give up our cyber capabilities because of Western strangulation.”

"We need to make sure that we do not give up our cyber capabilities because of Western strangulation."

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked

She said the West was over-regulating Israel’s cyber-offensive sector and causing Israel to do the same.

Shaked said she had delivered warnings to former prime minister Naftali Bennett and to Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

An aerial view shows the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel, July 22, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)An aerial view shows the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel, July 22, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Why is Shaked saying this now?

Without naming the NSO Group and other Israeli cyber-offense groups, she seemed to be referring to an already year-long US ban on much of the Israeli cyber-offense sector, especially NSO.

The US imposed sanctions on NSO and other Israeli cyber-offensive groups after waves of allegations that NSO and others had sold cyber products to non-democratic countries. The countries had used those tools to spy on human rights activists and journalists, and in some cases, even on top Western officials.

Israel has tried to quietly convince the US to lift the sanctions after it carried out its own crackdown on which countries to which NSO and others can sell their products.

However, to date, Washington has maintained the sanctions, leading to its longtime CEO Shalev Hulio stepping down in August, and being replaced by COO Yaron Shohat.

Shaked also slammed the impending Iran nuclear deal, saying it would allow the Islamic Republic to build a huge number of advanced centrifuges as soon as 2025, which would make it easy for it to break out to a nuclear bomb without much warning.

"Israel needs to be ready for all scenarios"

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked

She also criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for pursuing war crimes charges against Israel before the International Criminal Court and for “pay-for-slay” salaries to terrorists who kill Israelis.

She said until he stops these activities, he should not be given too much legitimacy, and that Israeli meetings with the PA should be limited to security cooperation.