Liberman seems to confirm Trump leaked Israeli intel
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Liberman seems to confirm Trump leaked Israeli intel

In radio interview, defense minister says ‘repairs’ were made after US president divulged info to Russian officials

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman attends a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset on March 6, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman attends a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset on March 6, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday that Israel made changes to its intelligence-sharing apparatus with the US after President Donald Trump gave Russian officials classified information.

Liberman also stressed the close relationship between the two countries on security issues.

“I can confirm that we did a spot repair and that there’s unprecedented intelligence cooperation with the United States,” Liberman said in an interview with Army Radio.

“What we had to clarify with our friends in the United States, we did. We did our checks,” he said.

Liberman added, however, that he would not discuss in public some aspects of the response to the apparent intelligence leak by Trump.

“Not everything needs to be discussed in the media; some things need to be talked about in closed rooms,” he said.

Meeting Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to Washington in the Oval Office on May 10, Trump shared intelligence about an Islamic State threat involving laptops carried on airplanes, according to a senior US official.

ABC News reported that the information came specifically from a spy embedded in the terrorist group on behalf of Israel, and that Trump’s leak had placed the person’s life at risk.

On Monday, Trump said he did not mention Israel in his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in an off-the-cuff comment that many saw as confirmation that the source was in fact Israeli.

“Just so you understand: I never mentioned the word or the name Israel, never mentioned, in that conversation,” Trump said at the end of a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. “They’re all saying I did, so you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”

But it was never alleged that Trump had disclosed that Israel was the source of the tip-off, just that he had conveyed the information.

Reports of the leak made waves in the Israeli intelligence community, with some former heads of the Mossad decrying Trump and calling for the US to be “punished” for the gaffe.

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