Israel denies Ukraine use of powerful spyware technology, here’s why

Israeli spyware system Pegasus has been blocked by Ukraine over fear of jeopardizing relations with Russia.

By World Israel News Staff

A global investigation has been launched surrounding Israel’s refusal to sell Pegasus, the controversial spyware technology, to Ukraine, over fear of Russia’s reaction, The Washington Post reported.

The news comes on the heels of a statement made three days ago by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who said that Israel would continue to assist Ukraine and its people “as much as we can,” according to Reuters. 

While Israel has been a mediator in the Ukraine-Russia crisis and has condemned the Russian invasion, it has been wary of antagonizing Moscow.
It has therefore blocked Ukraine from using the Pegasus spyware, as revealed by a joint investigation carried out by the Post and The Guardian.

Israel has been treading lightly around Russia even before it launched its deadly invasion on Ukraine on February 24. Russia plays a key military role in neighboring Syria, Israel’s northern border, where Israeli forces frequently attack pro-Iranian forces.

Ukraine’s attempt to acquire Pegasus from Israel was for the sake of strengthening its surveillance and military capabilities, with the support of Israel’s greatest ally, the United States, according to the Post. 

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Israeli defense officials denied a possible license that would have allowed Ukraine to acquire Pegasus from the NSO Group, the Israeli spyware company, the report added.

Ukrainian officials have reportedly been lobbying Israel for the license as far back as 2019.

The technology offered by Pegasus can turn almost any smartphone into a spying device and is reportedly used worldwide by institutions like the FBI. 

Although the NSO Group and the software it creates is privately owned, Israeli officials have long-attempted to align it with Israel’s foreign policies, the Post noted.