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Israeli Intelligence Eavesdropped on Kerry’s Phone During Palestine-Israel Peace Talks

israel spied on kerry

Ronen Bergman’s summary of Der Spiegel article. Caption: “More damage in U.S.-Israel relations”

I am the first English language publication to report his major story.  Der Spiegel publishes in today’s edition that Israeli intelligence (likely Unit 8200) eavesdropped on phone calls John Kerry made to his Palestinian interlocutors during the peace talks he conducted for the past year.  Though Kerry usually talked on encrypted phone lines from his State Department office or Georgetown home, when he was in flight to or from the region he had to use a satellite phone, which was not encrypted.  This allowed the Israelis to listen in on everything he said to the Palestinians.  It allowed them to know what ideas he was floating and prepared for them to counter them in the negotiation process.  When the Israelis really disliked a proposal they knew better how to attack it before Kerry had even brought the subject up.

The Spiegel reporter, who was the same one who first revealed that the NSA was eavesdropping on Andrea Merkel’s cell phone conversations as well.

A second country was also listening in on Kerry’s calls, though the report doesn’t say which one.  Either Israel was enabling that country to eavesdrop.  Or the two countries were doing it independently of each other.  My money is on a shared mission.  Which countries might Israel have wanted to know of these secret calls?  My money is on the new Israel toady, Egypt.  Or possibly Saudi Arabia, which which Israel has a very close intelligence relationship related to the Iranian “threat.”

Ronen Bergman published a summary of the article in Yediot yesterday.  It has just been published in German by Der Spiegel.

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • richard August 3, 2014, 6:27 AM

    so what, the US is tapping everyone’s phone!

  • ben August 3, 2014, 8:08 AM

    Wow I am so glad I am Canadian. John kerry is an embarrassment. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and john is jammed packed with them. He should be the firsy to know just how powerful the nsa is… let alone other countries versions of it… why he would use an unencrypted phone is beyond stupid.

  • Oui August 3, 2014, 9:01 AM

    The 2nd intelligence sharing state will not be part of the Five Eyes, it would need to be a world power and one Mossad works closely with, that can only be the corrupt French and DGSE. France supplied the nuclear know-how and materials for Dimona, long list of selling Mirages fighter aircraft and military equipment, doesn’t mind to undercut Obama/Kerry for treachery in not bombing Assad’s Syria a year ago. Yes indeed, a total embarassment.

  • Fred Plester August 3, 2014, 9:10 AM

    I can only presume that the lack of secure communications for the US Secretary of State is partly due to whatever’s at the other end of the call. I would have thought some form of secure satphone would be a given for someone who had to advise the president during an unexpected crisis at any time.

    .

  • Piotr Berman August 3, 2014, 9:19 AM

    This is a rare case where I would fully support the actions of Israel. An official of a state that eavesdrop everyone (whenever technologically possible) should expect the same. Moreover, the damage was minor at best, giving Israel several more hours to bad mouth Kerry’s proposals, and it is vary hard to figure out what Kerry really means to be done. Would Kerry and his boss truly meant something to be done, it would be done however Government of Israel, eavesdropping or not.

    What is more puzzling is how the story was passed to the reporters. The whole point of eavesdropping requires to keep it hidden.

    • Oui August 3, 2014, 9:58 AM

      The intelligence communities work more closely than the official heads of state of these countries. The NSA supplies an open end to all its intelligemce, by contract NSA required the Mossad to filter out the official government officials of the White House, Cabinet members and likely of U.S. Congress.

      NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans’ data with Israel

      An undated Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Israel sets out the ground-rules by which the NSA ‘routinely’ provides raw intelligence data to the Israelis. It defines raw ‘Sigint’ as including “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.”

      The Memorandum includes provisions designed to protect the privacy of Americans whose data might be shared with the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU). It opens with a preamble that the sharing of information must be “consistent with the requirements placed upon NSA by US law and Executive Order to establish safeguards protecting the rights of US persons under the Fourth Amendment” of the US Constitution guaranteeing individual privacy.

  • Arie Brand August 3, 2014, 2:10 PM

    The same article in Der Spiegel mentions that there was a somewhat heated telephone call between Obama and Netanyahu lasting about an hour. It wouldn’t be fanciful to think that both Obama and Kerry are by now thoroughly pissed off with this warlord of the Levant. But will it be noticeable in their political stance towards him?

    Sir Gerald Kaufman MP called Obama “spineless” in an interview on Al Jazeera. Is this a fair judgement? Does the man have the political space to be anything else here? He would at any case have the support of both the British and German Minister of Foreign Affairs if he demanded that Israel abandons its de facto occupation of Gaza.

  • Slevdi August 3, 2014, 2:25 PM

    Why is it news that spys spy? Anyway, Kerry knows that any non encrypted conversation is being listened to by many spy agencies. My guess is that it was a deliberate decision to be leaky.

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