WASHINGTON - Israel’s espionage activities in the United States have ‘crossed red lines,’ angering American intelligence officials, according to a report in Newsweek magazine.
The main targets are US industrial and technical secrets, the weekly said, quoting classified briefings on legislation that would make it easier for Israeli citizens to get visas to enter America. The US visa waiver programme would exempt Israeli nationals from having to produce a tourist visa, permitting them to stay in the US for a period of up to 90 days.
Senior US intelligence officials have said that Israel’s spying operations in the US ‘go far beyond that of other close American allies, such as Germany, France, the UK and Japan,’ the report said.
Tel Aviv’s efforts to ‘steal US secrets under the cover of trade missions and joint defence technology contracts have crossed red lines,’ said the report. According to a congressional staffer familiar with a briefing last January, the testimony was ‘very sobering, alarming even terrifying.’ Another staffer called it ‘damaging.’ ‘No other country close to the United States continues to cross the line on espionage like the Israelis do,’ said a former congressional staffer who attended another classified briefing in 2013.
‘I don’t think anyone was surprised by these revelations,’ the former aide said. ‘But when you step back and hear that there are no other countries taking advantage of our security relationship the way the Israelis are for espionage purposes, it is quite shocking.
I mean, it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that after all the hand-wringing over Jonathan Pollard, it’s still going on.’ Senior US intelligence officials have reportedly told Congress that Israeli’s spying operations are going too far and called the extent of the espionage activities shocking, far exceeding similar activities by any other close allies. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected the allegations. ‘We’re talking about lies and falsehood, simply libel which is baseless and unfounded,’ he said. Lieberman added Israel was not involved in any form of espionage against the United States, either direct or indirect in nature.