TEL AVIV – Lost in much of the news coverage of alleged Israeli espionage activities reported Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal is that the same newspaper report revealed the U.S. actively spied on the Jewish state.
Citing interviews with current and former U.S. officials, the Journal reported Israel spied on the U.S.-led talks to forge a deal over Iran’s nuclear weapons.
However, largely unmentioned in the ensuing news coverage of the report is that the same Journal article related the White House first learned of the alleged Israeli activities by information collected from U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel.
Reported the Journal: “The White House discovered the operation, in fact, when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks, officials briefed on the matter said.”
The Journal article reported that as secret talks with Iran progressed into 2013, U.S. intelligence agencies “monitored Israel’s communications to see if the country knew of the negotiations.”
“Mr. Obama didn’t tell Mr. Netanyahu until September 2013.”
While recognizing the U.S. spied on Israel, the report quoted “current and former U.S. officials” accusing the Jewish state of spying on the international talks with Iran as part of Netanyahu’s campaign to build a case against the emerging deal with Tehran.
The officials claimed, according to the report, that in addition to eavesdropping, Israel “acquired information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe.”
However, the U.S. officials being quoted conceded that Israel may have obtained information on the nuclear negotiations not by targeting U.S. officials directly but by sweeping up their conversations with other parties targeted for surveillance, such as Iranian officials.
The Journal article quoted the current and former U.S. officials saying, “Israel has long topped the list of countries that aggressively spy on the U.S., along with China, Russia and France.”
Continued the article: “The U.S. expends more counterintelligence resources fending off Israeli spy operations than any other close ally, U.S. officials said.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office told WND Tuesday that Israel “unequivocally and totally” denies the claim it spied on the nuclear talks.
“This is a story by uncited, anonymous sources and doesn’t have an ounce of truth to it,” said Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reacted Tuesday by saying he was “shocked” by the Wall Street Journal’s report. He said he is not aware of evidence Israel shared illicit information with lawmakers.
“I was shocked by the fact that there were reports in this press article that information was being passed on from the Israelis to members of Congress,” Boehner said. “I’m not aware of that at all.”