U.S. Spying Is 'Unacceptable,' Says Israel's Intelligence Affairs Minister

Minister Yuval Steinitz reacts to reports that U.S. and British intelligence agencies intercepted emails from the offices of former Israeli prime minister and minister of defense.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

Israel's Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz responded on Saturday to reports claiming that American and British intelligence agencies intercepted emails from on the offices of top Israeli officials, saying that spying on Israel by friendly countries is "unacceptable."

Speaking on Channel 2's "Meet the Press," Steinitz said: "We do not spy on the President of the United States. We have undertaken commitments on the matter and we are fulfilling them."

"Our working assumption is that not only Arab states are trying to spy on us, but friendly countries as well," Steinitz said. "We do not talk about secret matter in the regular mailing system." He added the report serves as a reminder to adhere to security standards.

On Friday, documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden shed light on a list of surveillance targets used by British and American intelligence services, which include former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said on Friday that even if the details of the report were true, the email address in question was a public one used by the premier's office.

"The chance that security or intelligence-related damage was done by this interception is zero," Olmert's office said. "It should be emphasized that relations between Israel and the U.S. in those years were excellent, and the intelligence cooperation was comprehensive, detailed, and as close as never before."

MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) filed an urgent motion for the Knesset to discuss the reports of the U.S. spying.

"Israel is a friendly state to the U.S., and since the Pollard affair 30 years ago it stopped all espionage in the U.S.," Shai said, and added that the U.S. must clarify its actions and formally announce it will not continue to spy on Israeli officials.

Finance Minister Steinitz, left, with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Knesset.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott