Israeli intelligence is reassessing what information they choose to share with the country’s “greatest ally,” the United States, according to a Wednesday report in the Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
“We can’t hand over our crown jewels,” an intelligence source warned following Monday’s bombshell Washington Post story revealing that US President Donald Trump had disclosed highly classified intelligence to Russians officials in the White House last week.
The country supplying the intelligence to the US was identified in the Post story only as “an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.” Sources told The New York Times on Tuesday that Israel was that country.
The Yedioth source assessed that the “highly sensitive” information disclosed by Trump to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and its US ambassador Sergey Kislyak was handed over recently in several meetings with US officials on the situation in Syria. The intelligence officials speculate that Trump presented this information as a reprimand to the Russians.
As a result of the information leaked by Trump, an Israeli spy’s life is believed to be at risk, according to a Tuesday ABC news report.
The spy is said to have tipped handlers off about an Islamic State plan to blow up a passenger plane headed for the US by hiding a bomb in a laptop, said the station, quoting current and former US officials.
The US already prohibits 10 mainly Middle Eastern airports from allowing laptops on board US-bound flights. US and European officials were set Wednesday to discuss plans to broaden the ban to include planes from Europe.
They added that the intelligence provided by the spy was so sensitive that it was shared only with the US and was conditioned on the source remaining secret.
Trump acknowledged in a series of tweets that he passed on the information to Russia. “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
While not commenting directly on the Post and Times reports, Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer stood by the US president in a Monday statement.
“Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump,” Dermer said.
BuzzFeed quoted what it described as two unnamed Israeli intelligence officers saying that the incident represented Israel’s “worst fears confirmed.”
“We have an arrangement with America which is unique to the world of intelligence sharing. We do not have this relationship with any other country,” said one officer.
“There is a special understanding of security cooperation between our countries,” he said. “To know that this intelligence is shared with others, without our prior knowledge? That is, for us, our worst fears confirmed.”
A report earlier in the year foreshadowed just such an incident as well as the growing concerns within the intelligence community regarding the new US president.
In January, Yedioth revealed that US intelligence officials warned their Israeli counterparts that Trump’s ties to Russia could pose a security threat, and described a meeting between US and Israeli intelligence officials in which the Americans indicated to Israel they should be cautious in sharing information with Trump’s White House. The paper reported that the Americans had assessed that Russia had some kind of leverage over Trump, but did not go into details.
Times of Israel staff and AP contributed to this report.