Netanyahu on U.S. Spying Allegations: There Are Things Friends Mustn't Do

PM responds for first time to reports the Americans intercepted emails of Israeli officials; White House: U.S. reviewing the way it gathers intelligence.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized reports that American intelligence agencies intercepted emails between senior Israeli government officials and called for an inquiry into the matter.

"There are certain things friends mustn't do to each other," Netanyahu said at the outset of the Likud faction meeting in the Knesset Monday, adding that it was unacceptable.

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.

Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman with the White House National Security Council, said in response to Netanyahu's statements that the U.S. is reviewing the way it gathers intelligence and will continue to address the issue with its partners in diplomatic channels.

"The United States and Israel enjoy a long friendship based on shared values and mutual interests," Meehan said. "At the core of our relationship, we collaborate closely with Israel to protect the collective security of our two countries and of our citizens."

The reported espionage sparked the fury of several Israeli politicians, including Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who said that spying on Israel by friendly countries is "unacceptable."

On Saturday, 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.

Prime Minister Netanyahu in Likud faction meeting, Nov. 25, 2013. Credit: Oliver Fittousi

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