News / Middle East

Israel Demands End to US Spying

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a weekly Cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Dec. 22, 2013.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a weekly Cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Dec. 22, 2013.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a weekly Cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Dec. 22, 2013.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a weekly Cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Dec. 22, 2013.
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Robert Berger
— Israel has reacted angrily to reports the country was a target of espionage by the United States.

Senior officials in Jerusalem are demanding an end to U.S. spying on Israel after revelations the National Security Agency intercepted e-mails from Israeli leaders.

The allegations were disclosed by former NSA contractor and whistle blower Edward Snowden and published in several Western newspapers.  The reports said from 2008 to 2011, the NSA targeted e-mail addresses belonging to then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The issue topped the agenda at Israel’s weekly Cabinet meeting.

“This is not legitimate,” said Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz.

He said Israel was “not tracking the U.S. president, White House or secretary of defense.”

Steinitz said Israel and the United States had an “intelligence alliance” and shared the most sensitive information; and therefore he said, allies must reach an agreement not to spy on one another.

Israel joins the list of other top American allies who have been targeted by the NSA, including France and Germany.

The issue touches a raw nerve in Israel because of the case of Jonathan Pollard, a former American intelligence analyst who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. The case strained ties at the time and has been a sore spot ever since.  The United States has repeatedly rejected Israeli requests for Pollard’s release.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet that Israel was continuing to press President Barack Obama to free the ailing Pollard and allow him to come “home” to Israel.

Israel’s response was uncharacteristically angry.  Officials said it was necessary to issue a strong protest, but they have also made it clear that Israel would not* allow the affair to harm relations with its best friend and ally, the United States.

*in a previous version the word "not" had been inadvertently omitted

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by: Godwin from: Nigeria
December 23, 2013 1:23 PM
Only a Barack Obama in the world can do this to Israel in the name of USA


by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
December 23, 2013 3:31 AM
Both countries, US and Israel, have been excessively and publically boasted of their unbreakable friendship but at the same time they were spying on each other as if they were enemies. This attitude is hypocritical and intellectually dishonest.


by: Igor from: Russia
December 23, 2013 3:07 AM
I think the USA has every right to spy on Israel leaders to prevent them from acting without considering the USA's interests. The fact is that Israel never respects international community, having nuclear weapons illegally, refusing to sign any treaty about nuclear weapons. So we have to step up spying on Israel to find out when it goes mad and kills others with it mass destruction weapons.


by: Ciaran Mulcahy. from: Dublin, Ireland.
December 22, 2013 5:32 PM
In VOA's item, 'Israel Demands end to U.S. Spying', one word was omitted from the closing paragraph on your website, 'unfortunately its a significant omission, one which could be regarded as Freudian in its offensiveness to Israel, even though the opposite was intended.

It read: 'Israel's response was uncharacteristically angry. Officials said t was necessary to issue a strong protest, but they have also made it clear that Israel would allow the affair to harm relations with its best friend and ally, the United States.'

The word which was omitted, was: 'not'.


by: Anonymous
December 22, 2013 11:56 AM
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black . . . .


by: MrSatyre
December 22, 2013 11:27 AM
Very amusing, seeing how Israel has spies currently in US prisons for spying on the US.

In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
December 23, 2013 3:11 AM
As the USA closest ally, Israel shoud have believed in the USA rather than trusted Edward Snowden's words unless it does not consider itself the USA's ally.

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