JERUSALEM, Israel - Both US President Donald Trump and Israel have dismissed a report from Politico that Israel was spying on the US. The report accused Israel of planting cellphone surveillance devices that were found near the white house and other sensitive locations around Washington.
Politico reported that miniature surveillance devices commonly known as “StringRays” were planted near the White House to capture cell phone data and probably spy on Trump.
“I don't believe that,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “No, I don't think the Israelis were spying on us. I really would find that hard to believe. My relationship with Israel has been great.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin denied the allegations.
"We have a directive. I have a directive: no intelligence collection in the United States, no spying. And it is rigorously enforced without any exception. It is a complete fabrication, a complete fabrication."
The report comes just days before Israelis vote in national elections, which some have called a referendum on Netanyahu. Netanyahu often highlighted his close ties with Trump in the lead-up to the elections.
Shortly before the story broke, Netanyahu headed to Russia for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Before leaving, Netanyahu said Israel was working to ensure its safety against threats from Iran and its proxies.
Photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)
He said Syria is the main arena and Israel needs freedom of action there against Iranian and Hezbollah targets. Coordinating with Russia is therefore important to prevent clashes between Israel and Russia on the ground.
Putin credited Netanyahu with the close relations between the two countries and said Russia was “not indifferent” to who wins the Israeli elections.
"I will be straightforward: I’m not afraid to say that to a great degree, it's thanks to your efforts that our relations have improved in the sphere of defense and military cooperation,” said Putin.
Netanyahu said his relationship with Putin “prevented and dangerous frictions between our militaries.”
“I say this wholeheartedly that this is a fundamental component of the stability of the region,” he added.