A leading Egyptian daily falsely claimed that former foreign minister Tzipi Livni conducted sexual relations with Arab officials during her years as a Mossad agent in an attempt to entrap them, and used what it said was a 2009 interview with The Times of London as ostensible proof.

The article in Al-Masri Al-Youm, an independent and widely read Egyptian daily, was headlined: “Livni: I had sex with Arabs in return for ‘political concessions.’” It featured prominently in the paper’s Saturday print edition and was still leading its website on Sunday afternoon. The article went up on Al-Masry Al-Youm’s website Friday night and was its most widely read story over the weekend. It had garnered 20,000 Facebook shares and 1,800 tweets as of Sunday morning, and was quoted extensively in Egyptian and Arab media.

Sources close to Livni told The Times of Israel that “this report is ludicrous and crazy.” Needless to say, they said, the story was without foundation. “There are apparently those who fear Livni’s return to politics, where she will strengthen Israel’s standing domestically and internationally,” the sources said.

The Egyptian newspaper story claimed that Livni gave an interview to The Times of London in 2009 –segments of which it said were quoted at the time in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth — in which she “prided herself for her heroic actions, which included special operations such as entrapping important personalities by involving them in sexual scandals.”

It quoted her as saying that “she is not against having sexual relations in order to obtain information that will benefit the State of Israel.”

It added that Livni said the Mossad had rescued her from danger during special missions conducted in numerous European countries in which scientists, including Arabs, were targeted.

The article about Tzipi Livni on the website of Al-Masry Al-Youm Sunday (photo credit: Al-Masry Al-Youm image grab)

The article about Tzipi Livni on the website of Al-Masry Al-Youm Sunday (photo credit: Al-Masry Al-Youm image grab)

Livni did not, in fact, say any of those things in any interview seen by The Times of Israel. Rather, she did make comments to the Israeli media, that were republished by the Times in 2009, in which she said she had not been asked “to go to bed with someone for my country.”

As quoted by the (London) Times on February 15, 2009, Livni described the loneliness of serving as a young Mossad agent in London following her graduation from law school. (Livni served in the Mossad in Europe between 1980 and 1984.) Asked if she would have been willing to serve as a “honey trap” — a euphemism for a seductress — to entrap Israeli nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu in the 1980s, Livni was quoted by The Times as answering, “If you ask me if I was ever asked to go to bed with someone for my country, the answer is ‘no.’ But if I’d been asked to do it, I don’t know what I’d have said. In the ‘office’ [Mossad’s term for itself] there is a job tailored for everyone.”

Al-Masry Al-Youm also included what appears to be a bizarre reference to an extensive interview Livni gave to Haaretz reporter Ari Shavit on January 30, 2009, ahead of the then-imminent general elections.

The Egyptian paper did not quote from the interview, but it referred to a certain “Rabbi Ari Shfat, considered one of the most important and famous rabbis in Israel,” who it said issued religious edicts permitting “Israeli women to have sex with the enemy in return for important information.”

The Times of Israel sought a response from A-Masry Al-Youm, but none had been received at the time of publication.