White House Lashes Out At Israel For Giving Congress Details On Iran Talks

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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White House officials are lashing out at Israel, charging that it illegitimately kept American legislators informed about President Barack Obama’s closed-door negotiations with Iran’s theocracy.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday that Israel spied on talks between Iranian and U.S. officials on a potential nuclear agreement, and supplied that information to members of Congress.

“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” an official complained to the Wall Street Journal.

Israel’s government denied any impropriety. “These allegations are utterly false,” according to a statement from “a senior official in Mr. Netanyahu’s office.”

“The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States. … The false allegations are clearly intended to undermine the strong ties between the United States and Israel and the security and intelligence relationship we share,” the Israeli official said.

Israel got the information by spying on Iranian officials and by attending briefings offered by French participants in the talks, Israeli officials said.

The Journal reports that Israel has kept congressional leaders informed about the closed-door nuclear-weapon negotiations between Iran and the group of world powers, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and China.

Currently, Obama and his aides want to use the United Nation Security Council to strike a deal without any intervention from Congress, even though the U.S. Constitution says the Senate must provide advice and consent in treaty negotiations.

The Associated Press reports that the deal will quickly lift economic sanctions in exchange for a 40 percent cut in Iran’s atomic bomb-making machines. Those restrictions would be eased after 10 years, potentially allowing Iran to amass funds over the next decade to put toward a nuclear weapon after the deal wanes. Iran’s Islamic theocrats have repeatedly funded attacks on Jews and said that Israel’s existence must be ended.

But a bipartisan group of 47 U.S. senators and 367 House legislators have warned in separate public letters that any deal needs the approval of Congress.

Obama and his aides have rejected the congressional statements.

In the White House, “people feel personally sold out … the Israelis really better be careful because a lot of these people will not only be around for this administration but possibly the next one as well,” said the unnamed official.

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