Meretz Leader Demands Answers From Gantz on NSO Spyware

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
Head of the Meretz party Nitzan Horowitz leads a Meretz faction meeting at the Knesset, Monday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Meretz party leader Nitzan Horowitz said on Monday that his party would ask the Defense Ministry about exports of Israeli spyware that media reports have linked to the hacking of phones of journalists, civil servants and rights activists worldwide.

Horowitz told reporters he would meet Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday to discuss the exports by NSO Group.

The Defense Ministry, which licenses the exports, did not immediately comment.

An investigation by 17 media organizations published on Sunday said NSO’s spyware was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and rights activists. Reuters was not able to verify the accusations independently.

NSO has denied what it called “the false allegations” raised by the media organizations and said it sells technology only to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of vetted governments in order to fight terrorism and crime.

Speaking during a Meretz faction meeting, MK Mossi Raz called on the party to demand that Israel halt NSO exports, which he likened to “exporting weaponry, which is forbidden to non-democratic countries.”

But another Meretz MK, former IDF deputy chief Yair Golan, was more circumspect, saying the reporting on NSO “looks tendentious, with a commercial motivation,” and added, “it is not just NSO that does such things.”