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Leaked Pentagon memo claims Mossad involvement in judicial protests

TJI Wrap
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Published: 11 April 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Netanyahu’s office says the memo is wrong, but its existence prompts fears that the US doesn’t understand or trust Jerusalem.  

A leaked Pentagon memo published by US media alleged that the Mossad – Israel’s foreign intelligence service – spurred their own spies and the country’s citizens to participate in the mass demonstrations against the Netanyahu government’s judicial overhaul.

The New York Times and The Washington Post published the memo on Saturday.

The Prime Minister’s Office, on behalf of the Mossad, said in a statement that the reports were “false and unfounded.”

“The Mossad and its senior officials have not and are not encouraging workers at the organisation to demonstrate against the government, and participate in political demonstrations in general,” the statement added.

The top secret document - part of the trove of US security files that have made far-reaching revelations about Washington’s allies and nemeses - claimed that the spy agency “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.”

While some Israeli sources cast doubt on the authenticity of the memo, the general claim is that the memo is an authentic document but that the Pentagon perception misrepresents the protests.

The New York Times noted, "The apparent authenticity of the documents, however, is not an indication of their accuracy."

Concerns about the report have focused less on the possibility of Mossad involvement with the protests and more on what the Pentagon memo says about US-Israel relations.

Some commentators suggested it could mean the US is actively and successfully spying on the Mossad’s very core, monitoring signals intelligence emerging from it.

But it is more likely the analysis was based on open information revealed by Israeli media.

Haaretz’s Yossi Melman wrote that the memo reveals poor understanding in the US of the state of play in Israel.

“Everyone living in Israel knows that the protest movement against the judicial overhaul is authentic, spontaneous, and  decentralised, without a main headquarters. Everyone who lives in Israel knows that the heads of the security establishment are not the ones leading the protests.”

He noted the report about the Mossad is just one marginal item in a much larger leak of documents that primarily have to do with US and NATO involvement in the war in Ukraine.

“The main aims of whoever obtained this information are to drive a wedge between the US and its allies, sow confusion and chaos, and undermine belief in the real facts. Furthermore, this actor doctored the documents to serve his purposes, but displayed some negligence in how they went about it. Their professional hacking is tainted by ideology and politics.”

Leaked US documents allege Mossad encouraged Israel’s anti-Netanyahu protests (Haaretz)

Israel denies leaked claim that spy agency leaders encouraged protest (New York Times, paywalled)

Netanyahu's office denies reports that Mossad encouraged protests (i24)

Mossad officials doubt credibility of CIA document, refute ‘deep-state’ reputation (Haaretz)

The Leaked Pentagon Memo: Russia’s Chaos Tactics Strike Israel's Mossad (Yossi Melman, Haaretz)

Under the radar, a US group is grooming right-wing judges who will reshape Israel (Haaretz)

‘Democracy will win’: Amid terror threat, hundreds of thousands protest overhaul (Times of Israel)
Rallies begin with minute of silence for Friday’s terror victims; former defence minister Ya’alon calls on opposition not to compromise with Netanyahu on judicial legislation.

Photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad Chief David Barnea, last week (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

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