Ya'alon: Spying on America? No Way

Defense Minister rejects Wall Street Journal report which claimed Israel had spied on the talks between Iran and Western powers.

Yedidya Ben Or ,

Moshe Ya'alon
Moshe Ya'alon
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon denied on Tuesday a report in the Wall Street Journal which, citing unnamed American officials, said that Israel has been spying on the closed-door talks between the P5+1 powers and Iran.

Speaking at a toast in honor of the upcoming Passover holiday, held in the city of Nesher near Haifa, Ya’alon clarified that Israel is not spying on the United States and added that there are factors trying to drive a wedge between the two countries.

"I can tell you as someone who has known the intelligence community for 20 years that there is no way [that Israel is spying on the U.S.],” he said.

"There is no such thing as Israel spying on Americans. I asked whether anyone in the intelligence community received a complaint about this, because if it had indeed taken place, we were supposed to receive a complaint. We have not received any complaints, but someone has an interest in making trouble or causing some more bad blood in the relationship, which for us is a strategic relationship,” continued Ya’alon.

"The relationship between Israel and the United States, as the president also said recently and also the Prime Minister before Congress, is deep. It is based on shared values, common interests, and no damage has been done to it,” said the defense minister.

"Unfortunately, someone is trying to put some bad blood [in the relationship]," warned Ya’alon. “It does not mean that there are no disagreements, sometimes there are disagreements, sometimes we see things differently and there are channels through which we resolve the disputes, it’s too bad that evil spirits enter into these channels and I hope we pass this quickly and get back to that relationship which is mostly discrete and I hope it will continue that and under no circumstances will it be harmed.”

The report in the Wall Street Journal said that, in addition to eavesdropping on the talks with Iran, Israel allegedly acquired information “from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe.”

The White House was reportedly particularly upset by Israel's use of the information in talks with American lawmakers, intended to derail the Iran talks.

Earlier Tuesday, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz denied the report, saying the accusations in it “are baseless and we reject them outright.”

"Israel does not spy on its allies, and especially not on the United States,” Steinitz added. “The purpose of these statements is to harm the excellent cooperation that we have with the United States, despite the disagreements on the Iranian issue.”