Israeli Officials Continue to Praise U.S.-Israel Intelligence Relationship

YERUSHALAYIM -
A worker hangs Israeli and American flags on a lamppost along a freeway leading to Yerushalayim, days before a planned visit by President Donald Trump, Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Despite the possibility that the life of the Israeli intelligence agent who supplied the information that U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly shared with Russian officials is in danger – as a result of the revelation that he was the source of the data –  Israeli officials continued to express public support for its intelligence relationship with the United States. Speaking Wednesday morning, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that “Israel’s security cooperation with the United States will continue. Our ties with our most important ally are very deep and have contributed a great deal to our ability to defend ourselves. That has been the situation until now, and that is how things will continue.”

On Tuesday, President Trump called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss his visit to Israel next week, but the two did not discuss the intelligence leak during their 20-minute conversation, the prime minister’s office said.

A report on ABC Tuesday said that Israeli officials were now very concerned that the life of the Israeli spy who obtained the information that President Trump presented to the Russians, according to reports, is in danger. The report, said ABC, is based on conversations with current and former American senior intelligence officials. All the officials spoke to the network on condition of anonymity, the report said.

The information in question was actually the basis of the American ban on the use of on-board laptops on flights originating in Middle Eastern countries, according to the report. The spy was investigating a plot by Islamic State to blow up an American airliner using a bomb hidden in a laptop, which American security officials believed could be sneaked through airport security.

A New York Times report Tuesday had named Israel as the source of the classified material, quoting “a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States obtained the information.” In a statement, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said that “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump.”

Speaking Wednesday, Amos Gilad, a former top official in the Defense Ministry, said that the discussion of an “Israeli spy in ISIS” in public was very inappropriate, and the more the issue is discussed, the more endangered the spy is – if, indeed, there is such a spy. “There are topics that are just not up for discussion, even if there was a snafu in communications here, and I am not sure that there was, ” he told Yediot Acharonot. “Things like this need to be discussed behind closed doors. Publicizing any of this information endangers not only those participating in an operation, but Israel’s ability to operate altogether.”

With that, Gilad refused to criticize President Trump for the revelations. “He has barely been in office 100 days. That is far too soon for me to judge him on intelligence matters. The American security and intelligence agencies are very strong. We have all cooperated with each other in the past and will continue to do so in the future, with cooperation even improving, because this administration’s stance on many issues regarding the enemies of freedom is much clearer than in past administrations.”