US leaked documents allege Mossad backed judiciary overhaul protests

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  April 9, 2023

Israel vehemently denies reports which suggest that Washington spied on its all.

Leaked US intelligence documents allege that the Israeli spy body Mossad secretly encouraged people to join protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul

The documents, dating back to “early to mid-February”, state that Mossad’s leadership had “advocated for Mossad officials and Israeli citizens to protest the new Israeli government’s proposed judicial reforms including several explicit calls to action that decried the Israeli government”.

The intelligence memo does not state who made the order to encourage Mossad employees and civilians to join the protests but notes that the intelligence came from signals intelligence – meaning the US spied on its closest ally in the region. 

These latest leaks are part of a series of US intelligence documents posted online and given to The Washington Post and other newspapers. The FBI is investigating who is behind the leak. The authenticity of the documents is thought to be generally credible, though the information they contain is not necessarily factual. 

The Israeli prime minister’s office on Sunday condemned the report on behalf of Mossad and described them as “mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever”. 

“The Mossad and its senior officials did not – and do not – encourage agency personnel to join the demonstrations against the government, political demonstrations or any political activity,” the statement read. 

“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 disclosure of these documents comes after pro-government Israelis accused the US of secretly orchestrating the protests against Netanyahu and supporting them.

Last month, Netanyahu’s son Yair, claimed the US State Department was “behind the protest in Israel, with the aim of overthrowing Netanyahu, apparently in order to conclude an agreement with the Iranians”.

Washington denied these claims and said that any reports that it was “propping up or supporting these protests… is completely and demonstrably false”.

Israel has been rocked by weeks-long protests and strikes since January against the judicial overhaul plan, which critics say will weaken the Supreme Court and remove checks on parliament. 

Netanyahu paused the proposal last month to allow for dialogue with the opposition until late May before pressing on with the bills again. 

The plan was publicly criticised by US President Joe Biden who urged Netanyahu to “walk away from it”.

His remarks prompted criticism from Netanyahu and his partners, and exposed simmering tensions between the two administrations. 


Mossad denies role in protests against judicial overhaul

Middle East Monitor  /  April 9, 2023

Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency on Sunday denied US reports about its role in encouraging mass protests against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over controversial judicial overhaul, Anadolu Agency reports.

The New York Times and The Washington Post newspapers cited a Pentagon document dated March 1 saying that the Mossad leadership “advocated for Mossad officials and Israeli citizens to protest the new Israeli government’s proposed judicial reforms, including several explicit calls to action that decried the Israeli government, according to signals intelligence.”

But a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office on behalf of the Mossad said these US reports were “completely false and absurd.”

“The Mossad and its officials did not and do not encourage employees in the organization to go to demonstrations against the government, to political demonstrations in general, or to any political activity,” the statement said.

On Saturday, thousands of Israelis demonstrated for the 14th consecutive week against Netanyahu’s plans for judicial reform, which have triggered mass protests across Israel over the past weeks.

The Israeli opposition views the judicial overhaul plans as an attempt to reduce the powers of the judicial authority in favor of the executive.

Netanyahu, however, insists that his judicial plans would enhance democracy and restore the balance between the legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

On March 27, Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, bowed to pressure and announced a temporary halt to the judicial overhaul plans.