Israel sends top intel official to US to complain about spy claims

Yuval SteinitzBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A senior Israeli intelligence official will be meeting with the head of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee today to complain about reports in the media that Israel spies aggressively on American targets. The Israeli government reacted angrily last week to claims by Newsweek magazine’s intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein that Israeli spies were aggressively trying to steal American secrets. Stein quoted Congressional staffers saying that America’s Jewish allies had “crossed red lines” in their efforts to steal secrets from the United States. One staffer told Newsweek that Congress members had been briefed by American intelligence officials about Israeli espionage operations against the United States that were “very sobering […], alarming, even terrifying”. The Israeli embassy in Washington reacted angrily to Newsweek’s revelations, condemning what it called “outrageous, false allegations […] being directed against Israel”. Stein, however, did not back down. In a follow-up article published last Thursday, he quoted US intelligence officials and Congressional insiders who said Israel had been “caught carrying out aggressive espionage operations against American targets for decades”. The article included an allegation that Israeli intelligence tried to spy on US Vice President Al Gore during an official state visit to Jerusalem 16 years ago. The effort was allegedly aborted after a US Secret Service agent caught an Israeli spy trying to enter the Vice President’s hotel room through a ceiling vent. In other instances, Israeli intelligence operatives have allegedly tried to entice American officials visiting Israel with drugs and prostitutes. Stein reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, America’s primary counterintelligence agency, regularly summons Israeli diplomats stationed in Washington “for a scolding” after uncovering Israeli espionage operations on American soil. Such “scolding” sessions have taken place “dozens of times” since 9/11, says Stein, citing a former senior FBI official. In what appears to be a direct response to the Newsweek revelations, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz, will be meeting today with Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Minister Steinitz publicized his intention to let the Senator know that the Newsweek reports originate from “someone […] trying to maliciously and intentionally harm relations between Israel and the United States”. But a staffer for Senator Feinstein told the magazine that, although “there is a meeting” between her and Minister Steinitz, the Newsweek article was “not the purpose”. The meeting was “not about any particular subject”, he said.

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