Israel to Investigate Whether Spyware Is Used Illegally in Israel | world news


Israel will investigate allegations that police illegally used local spyware that gained notoriety abroad against its own citizens.

The government will form a committee to examine a series of reports from Calcalist, a Hebrew-language business daily, that law enforcement officials used NSO Group’s Pegasus software without a court order to gain access to citizens’ phones in both important and obscure, including a key prosecution witness in the corruption trial of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Others believed to have been targeted include an anti-Netanyahu protester, the son of the former Israeli leader, high-ranking officials and the heads of some of the country’s largest companies.

Israeli officials, including the police minister, initially denied any wrongdoing. But police then backtracked, citing “additional findings”, and on Monday Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev ordered the investigation.

“The information about Pegasus, if true, is very serious,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement on Monday. “This tool (Pegasus) and similar tools are important tools in the fight against terrorism and serious crime, but they were not intended for use in phishing campaigns targeting the Israeli public or officials – it is why we need to understand exactly what happened.”

It is the latest scandal linked to the beleaguered Israeli firm, which has been the subject of intense scrutiny for years, but the first in its home country. Pegasus, which can be installed remotely in smartphones to extract even encrypted communications, has reportedly been used to target journalists, dissidents and human rights activists by foreign governments including Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The uproar generated by the Calcalist exposure has already affected Netanyahu’s corruption trial, Channel 13 reported on Monday. The Jerusalem District Court canceled the hearing scheduled for Tuesday and asked the prosecution to submit a report on its review of the allegations.

Biden ‘looks forward’ to visiting Israel this year

US President Joe Biden is looking forward to a visit to Israel later this year, he told Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a phone call between the two leaders on Sunday, according to a White House statement.

Biden also conveyed his “unwavering support” for Israel’s security and his “full support” for rebuilding the Iron Dome air defense system.

The US leader hosted Bennett at the White House last year, where the two men glossed over their differences and presented a united front. Israel fiercely opposes Biden’s attempt to reverse his predecessor Donald Trump’s withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran nuclear talks resume in Vienna today

Talks on the Iran nuclear deal will resume in Vienna on Tuesday, diplomats said on Monday, after negotiators cited progress in recent weeks in seeking to revive the landmark 2015 deal.

The parties to the agreement have been negotiating in Vienna since last year with indirect participation from the United States. Talks last broke down late last month and negotiators returned to their capitals for consultations.

“The 8th round of the Vienna talks (…) in which China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, Iran and the United States participate resume tomorrow in Vienna”, tweeted Alain Matton, spokesperson for the EU, who is chairing the discussions.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the Washington Post in an interview posted online Monday that a successful conclusion of the talks “depends on Iran.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the answers “that the United States gives tomorrow in Vienna will determine when we can reach an agreement”.

“We have made significant progress in various areas of the Vienna negotiations,” including on guarantees that Iran is seeking that a new US administration will not breach the agreement once again, Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters. journalists.

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