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Report: Israel trying to mend ties with France strained over NSO phone hack

Eyal Hulata, in an undated photograph. (Courtesy)
Eyal Hulata, in an undated photograph. (Courtesy)

National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata visited France in recent days in an attempt to defuse a crisis involving the suspected use of Israeli spyware developed by NSO Group to hack the phones of French President Emmanuel Macron and other senior French officials, the Walla news site reports.

Citing senior Israeli sources, the outlet says Hulata met at the Elysee Palace with Macron’s diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Bonne, with the crisis one of the central issues discussed.

According to the report, an international investigation that in July unveiled the alleged hacking caused a diplomatic rift and Macron called Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who promised to investigate the matter. Days later, Defense Minister Benny Gantz flew to Paris and presented initial findings.

Walla says France froze a significant part of the diplomatic, security and intelligence ties with Israel over the matter until it is clarified, including halting mutual visits. Hulata has since been leading covert talks to defuse the crisis.

Hulata has reportedly presented additional findings to Bonne and proposed an Israeli promise that any future offensive cyber software deal with a third country will include a clause forbidding the targeting of French phones numbers, similar to deals already in place with the US and Britain.

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