Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday hit out at the United States for what he described as “unacceptable” wiretapping of his predecessor Ehud Olmert, as reported in the media.
“Given the close relations between the United States and Israel, there are things we cannot do, and that is unacceptable for us,” Netanyahu said at a meeting of his Likud party.
Netanyahu said he had asked for the reports to be verified.
The New York Times reported last week that in monitoring more than 1,000 targets in upwards of 60 countries between 2008 to 2011, US and British intelligence agencies tapped the communications of then premier Olmert, among other foreign leaders, according to secret documents revealed by intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
“We do not spy on the president of the United States or the White House. The rules have been made clear. We have made certain commitments on the matter and we honour them,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Sunday.
Israel and its close strategic ally had agreed not to spy on each other following the 1985 arrest in Washington of former US Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, who gave Israel thousands of secret documents about US espionage in the Arab world.
A US court sentenced Pollard to life imprisonment, and reports that the Americans also spied on its friends brought fresh calls for his release.
On Monday Netanyahu met the wife of Pollard and told her of his government’s efforts to secure the release of her husband, who obtained Israeli citizenship in 1995.
A day earlier the Israeli leader told his cabinet the efforts to obtain Pollard’s release were “neither conditional on, nor related to, the latest events, even though we have given our opinion on these developments,” without elaborating.