Israel rejects claims that Mossad backed nationwide protests

Government denies claims in leaked documents that its intelligence service encouraged Israelis to join mass demonstrations.

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, April 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool/File Photo
The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said The New York Times report was 'mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever' [File: Ronen Zvulun/pool/Reuters]

Israel’s government has rejected claims raised in documents allegedly leaked from the Pentagon that leaders of its foreign intelligence service, Mossad, had supported nationwide protests against a proposed overhaul of Israel’s judiciary.

The New York Times on Saturday published an assessment it attributed to a central intelligence update from March 1 that Mossad leadership had encouraged its staff and Israeli citizens to join the mass protests. The newspaper said that while the leaked documents seemed authentic, it did not mean they were accurate.

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Sunday that the report was “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,” it said.

Netanyahu’s plans for a judicial overhaul have sparked unprecedented public anger since his coalition of hard-right and religious parties came to power late last year and has also caused alarm among Israel’s Western allies.

The proposed legislation would enable parliament to override Supreme Court decisions and control judicial appointments.

After weeks of intensifying demonstrations, Netanyahu in late March relented and said he would delay the contested reforms to allow for talks with opposition parties.

The US Department of Justice said on Friday that it was in touch with the Department of Defense and had begun an investigation into the alleged leak of the documents, which cover several subjects relating to national security. It declined further comment.

Source: Reuters