Israeli spies encouraged anti-Netanyahu protests – Pentagon papers
Israel’s spy agency Mossad encouraged its staff and the general public to take part in massive protests against a judicial reform plan proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leaked papers from the Pentagon have reportedly revealed.
The assessment was included in a Central Intelligence Update from March 1, found among a batch of sensitive documents from the US Department of Defense which recently appeared online, according to reports on Sunday by several outlets, including the Washington Post and the New York Times.
In “early to mid-February” the top commanders of Israel’s foreign intelligence service “advocated for Mossad officials and Israeli citizens to protest against the new Israeli Government’s proposed judicial reforms, including several explicit calls to action that decried the Israeli Government,” the assessment read, as cited by the media. The memo did not contain the names of the Mossad leaders who allegedly made those calls, or any other details.
On Sunday, Netanyahu’s office released a statement on behalf of Mossad, rejecting the reports and slamming the assessment as “mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever.”
“The Mossad and its serving senior personnel have not engaged in the issue of the demonstrations at all and are dedicated to the value of service to the state that has guided the Mossad since its founding,” the statement read.
In its article the NYT claimed, citing an unnamed defense official, that Mossad chief David Barnea did allow some of the agency’s junior staff to participate in protests, but only in an unofficial capacity.
Last month, several hundred ex-employees of Mossad, including five of its former chiefs, also signed a statement denouncing the judicial reform.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been taking to the streets across Israel since January, after Netanyahu proposed legal changes that would allow parliament to override Supreme Court rulings by a simple majority, grant the government more power in appointing judges, and limit the ability of the top court to review legislation it deems “unreasonable.”
In late March, the PM fired defense minister Yoav Gallant for publicly challenging the overhaul. Gallant warned that the rift it caused in society was affecting the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and becoming “clear and immediate and tangible danger to the security of the state.”
A few days later, Netanyahu gave in to the pressure and suspended the reform, saying that a few weeks would be required to negotiate changes with the opposition.