Netanyahu denies Israel engages in 'any intelligence operations in the US'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE on Thursday forcefully denied allegations from former U.S. intelligence officials who claimed that Israel was behind a cellphone surveillance operation targeting the White House.
In a statement to NBC News, Netanyahu’s office denied that his country conducts espionage in the U.S. following a Politico report claiming that U.S. authorities had identified Israel as the likely culprit behind the placement of several StingRay surveillance devices near the White House.
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“There is a longstanding commitment, and a directive from the Israeli government not to engage in any intelligence operations in the U.S.,” it said in a statement. “This directive is strictly enforced without exception.”
Netanyahu’s office reportedly added that any allegations of Israel’s involvement in surveillance of the White House was a “blatant lie.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment Thursday on Politico’s reporting.
Three former officials told the news outlet that the U.S. had identified Israeli involvement in the devices, which can pick up contents of cellphone data usage as well as other information from unsecured devices.
“It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible,” one former intelligence official told Politico.
Another official added that it was unclear if the White House would hold Israel to account for the suspected espionage.
“The reaction … was very different than it would have been in the last administration,” that official said. “With the current administration, there are a different set of calculations in regard to addressing this.”