The accusations come as relations between Obama and Netanyahu reach new lows.
Israel spied on Iran’s nuclear talks with the United States — and used the information to undermine the Obama administration’s position with the GOP-led Congress, according to an explosive report in The Wall Street Journal.
Israeli officials are denying the accusations in the story, which quotes anonymous “current and former U.S. officials.”
The White House found out about the operation, the Journal reports, when U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted messages among among Israeli officials containing details that U.S. officials believed could only have come from the top-secret negotiations.
Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the US is asserting that criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace-making efforts is traceable to Israel’s ‘very rambunctious democracy,’ and not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dermer said Netanyahu appreciates Kerry’s efforts to bring about a cease-fire in the Gaza war. He adds, quote, ‘This is not coming from the prime minister.’
“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” a senior U.S. official told the Journal.
U.S. officials say that classified information, such as the number of centrifuges that Iran might be able to keep operating as part of a final accord, were then shared with lawmakers in a concerted effort to derail the talks.
Israeli officials deny that, and told the Journal that they did not spy directly on American negotiators. They say they got their information through other means, such as surveillance of Iran’s leaders or via one of the U.S.’s negotiating partners, such as the French.
The report underscores the growing rift between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations, which has deepened in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election last week.
“People feel personally sold out,” a senior White House official told the Journal. “That’s where the Israelis really better be careful because a lot of these people will not only be around for this administration but possibly the next one as well.”
Denis McDonough is shown.
A senior official in Netanyahu’s office fired back, calling the allegations “utterly false” in an interview with CNN, adding that “Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies. The false allegations are clearly intended to undermine the strong ties between the United States and Israel and the security and intelligence relationship we share.”
The talks over Iran’s nuclear program continue this week in Switzerland, as the March 31 deadline for a framework agreement looms.