Sharon: Israel doesn’t
spy on U.S.

By Aaron Klein

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon denied reports the Jewish state was spying on the United States and pledged continued cooperation with Washington on it war against terrorism.

In his first public comments regarding reports from American media and U.S. government sources that a Pentagon employee passed classified information to an Israeli lobbying group, Sharon reaffirmed in a Jerusalem Post interview previous denials by Cabinet ministers on the affair.

“Israel is not conducting any espionage activity whatsoever in the United States,” Sharon said. “I am saying this in the most emphatic terms possible: Israel is not spying on the United States. There is a clear policy and this is the way Israel is acting. I repeat, we are not spying on the United States.”

News broke last month that the FBI was investigating whether a low-level Pentagon analyst gave Israel classified documents on Iran, one of the Jewish state’s most bitter enemies, via the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, a powerful pro-Israel lobby group.

“The contacts that exist are not in any way beyond what is acceptable,” Sharon said. “Israel does not spy in any way on the United States, which is not only a close friend but an ally.”

AIPAC has also repeatedly denied the allegations.

Israel has enjoyed warm relations with the United States since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948. Sharon has visited the White House nine times since taking office and meets regularly with President George W Bush on political affairs.

“(U.S.-Israeli) cooperation and levels of information are so close, so intimate, that the information that is exchanged is much more classified than any conversation or another,” Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on Aug. 30.