An Israeli Defense Ministry official, speaking on background, denies published reports that Israel is spying on the US. Here, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with US President Barack Obama in Washington on March 3. (Pool / Getty Images)
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TEL AVIV — A senior Israeli defense official on Friday blasted allegations of Israeli espionage in America as “baseless bullsh-t,” insisting alleged leaks from congressional hearings published in Newsweek magazine on May 6 are “completely contradictory to our policy.”
Speaking on background at the Defense Ministry, the official said American interlocutors at various levels have raised no such concerns.
“If they have allegations, rumors or even pieces information, we say ‘Please share them with us.’ ”
The official dismissed the widely circulated Newsweek report — headlined “Israel Won’t Stop Spying on the US” — as “a vicious lie.”
Based on unnamed congressional staffers and counter-intelligence officials, the report characterized “unrivaled and unseemly” Israeli attempts to steal US secrets “under the cover of trade missions and joint defense technology contracts.”
A follow-on piece published by Newsweek on May 8 cited Israel’s alleged bugging of a Jerusalem hotel suite occupied 16 years ago by then-US Vice President Al Gore. That piece quoted a former top US security official insisting that despite vehement denials from Jerusalem, Israeli espionage in America “has been extensive for years.”
In a May 9 interview, the senior Israeli MoD official insisted strategic cooperation with Washington “has never been closer.”
Moreover, he said bilateral cooperation is growing “even more intimate” as a result of routine consultations and coordination at all levels, including this week’s visit by a top delegation headed by US National Security Adviser Susan Rice and last month’s meetings here chaired by Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
“We have unique cooperation at all levels, including with leading US security companies, and we are not abusing this, for sure,” the official said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed allegations of Israeli spying against its preeminent ally as “malicious” fallacy. Israel does not condone spying on the US “neither directly or indirectly,” he said. ■