A U.S. newspaper is reporting that the United States spied on communications of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although President Barack Obama promised two years ago to curtail eavesdropping on friendly heads of state.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the White House decided to secretly keep certain allies under close watch, with Netanyahu topping the list.
The report said the U.S., while pursuing a landmark nuclear arms deal with Iran, captured communications between Netanyahu and his aides.
Intercepting the conversations “inflamed mistrust between the two countries and planted a political minefield at home when Mr. Netanyahu later took his campaign against the [nuclear] deal to Capitol Hill,” the report said.
The Wall Street Journal said the U.S. targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also intercepted their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. That move raised fears that the White House would be accused of spying on Congress, according to an unnamed senior U.S. official quoted in the report.
The report said White House officials believed the intercepted information could be valuable to countering Netanyahu’s campaign of opposing the Iranian nuclear deal. The Israeli leader argued before Congress that the agreement would ease Iran’s path to building a nuclear weapon.
The deal, signed in July between Iran and six world powers, is aimed at curbing Iran’s atomic program, in exchange for lifting international sanctions on the country’s economy.