The Defense Ministry’s top official flies to Washington on Thursday, April 13 on an urgent mission following the “Pentagon leak” alleging Mossad support of anti-government protests against proposed judicial reforms. The Mossad spy agency has strenuously denied the allegation and the prime minister’s office called it “spurious and unfounded.”
The New York Times was first to cite a top secret “exploratory analysis” memo from US signals intelligence derived from eavesdropping on Israeli intelligence agents said to be discussing the Mossad’s backing for the organizers of the demonstrations against the legal reform plan and the Netanyahu government. They referred specifically to encouragement of members past and present to take part. A judge’s signature confirmed the US operation under the FSA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), which sanctions electronic surveillance for gathering foreign intelligence. What this means is that the US legal authorities and intelligence agencies were on the lookout for material evidence that heads of the Mossad were acting against their own government.
Worthy of mention here is the tacit understanding existing between Jerusalem and Washington as close and trusted allies to abstain from spying on each other. The timing of the Pentagon leak clearly indicated unfriendly intent, since it was published on March 1, the day that hundreds of Mossad retirees published a letter voicing their “concern” about the consequences of “the hasty and reckless legislation “of the disputed reform. This letter was preceded by the Mossad director David Barnea giving staff members – although not of high rank – permission to take active part in the mass demonstrations staged for more than three monthsagainst the government plan – provided they keep their identities and Mossad employment under wraps.
Therefore, even before the US intelligence memo’s leak, the Mossad chief was directly and publicly implicated in a protest movement which accused the government of an atempted coup against democracy.
These actions, therefore, confirmed the veracity of the Pentagon memo leak and rendered the denials by prime minister’s aides and the Mossad baseless. As did the lame attempt to present the US surveillance listeners as getting it wrong because they were unfamiliar with Israeli affairs and the nuances of the |Hebrew language.
Another of the top-secret documents cited in the same report claimed that if Washington pushed a bit more, Israel was ready to supply Ukraine with offensive weapons. Until now, the Netanyahu government refrained from this step so as not to antagonize Russia, which holds the key to its campaign against Iran’s military presence in Syria.
Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir’s mission therefore is highly problematic. At best, he may hope for an American commitment to stop spying on Israel, a commitment which even if granted is unlikely to hold up in all circumstances. But the toughest part of his mission will be to try and assess what other damaging Israeli secrets they are keeping up their sleeves and under what circumstances they are likely to be used.