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Ear to the Ground

Israel Fumes Over U.S. Spying

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Posted on Dec 22, 2013
Sudhamshu (CC BY 2.0)

One week after documents revealed that British and American intelligence agencies targeted email addresses belonging to the offices of Israel’s former prime minister and defense minister, Israeli officials angrily demanded that U.S. spying on their government stop.

It was the first time Israelis’ rage over U.S. spying against them was visible. The scandal, initiated by documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, led to renewed calls for the release of Jonathan Pollard, a former American intelligence analyst who has been imprisoned in the U.S. for nearly three decades for spying on Israel.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio, “This thing is not legitimate,” and called for both countries to enter an agreement regarding espionage.

Tourism Minister Uzi Landau said, “It’s quite embarrassing between countries who are allies. … It’s this moment more than any other moment that Jonathan Pollard [should] be released.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

Documents leaked by Snowden—and published last week in the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times—revealed that British intelligence agency GCHQ worked with the NSA from 2008-11 to target email addresses belonging to the offices of then Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and the defence minister, Ehud Barak.

Amir Dan, spokesman for Olmert, played down the revelations. He said the email address targeted was one meant for queries from the public and was not used for sensitive communications. “There is no chance there was a security or intelligence breach caused from this email address,” he said.

… Leading Israeli officials work on the assumption that they are being monitored. Officials use special secure lines for certain types of communications, and for the most sensitive matters, issues are discussed only face to face in secure rooms.

Even so, Israeli officials reacted with uncharacteristic anger toward the US, Israel’s closest and most important ally. Nachman Shai, a member of Israel’s parliamentary foreign affairs and defence committee, which deals with intelligence matters, called for an urgent briefing on the reported spying.

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