Share This Page

Netanyahu calls for probe of NSA spying in Israel

| Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, 8:39 p.m.

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he has ordered a probe into reports that the United States and Britain had monitored communications of the previous prime minister and defense minister, calling the actions unacceptable.

Netanyahu also reiterated Israel's call for the release of Jonathan Jay Pollard, an American Navy intelligence analyst sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel.

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, detailed surveillance by the agency and Britain's eavesdropping agency, the Government Communications Headquarters. They showed that in 2009, they had monitored email traffic of several Israeli officials, including Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister at the time, and the defense minister, Ehud Barak.

Contents of the leaked documents were published Friday by The New York Times, Britain's The Guardian and Germany's Der Spiegel. The references to U.S. spying on Israel drew sharp criticism from some Israeli cabinet ministers, who said the time is ripe for Pollard's release.

Netanyahu, who on Sunday appeared to respond mildly to the reports, was more forceful on Monday, in an apparent nod to the critics.

“Regarding the recent publications, I've asked that an inquiry be conducted into the matter,” Netanyahu said in remarks broadcast on Israel Radio. “In the close relationship between Israel and the United States, there are things that are forbidden to do, and which are unacceptable to us.”

On Sunday, the Israeli intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, called the reported U.S. spying on Israel “illegitimate,” saying that Israel did not spy on the U.S. president or secretary of Defense under commitments given after Pollard was arrested in 1985.

In Miami, Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, told the Miami Herald that the latest spying episode “is not going to affect the intelligence cooperation and intelligence-sharing, because both countries have so much to gain from it.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.