Days before the attack at the Natanz nuclear development center, Netanyahu reportedly ordered a reduction in intelligence sharing with the U.S.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu slashed intelligence sharing efforts between Israel’s security agencies and the United States government when President Joe Biden was sworn into office, according to a report from the New York Times on Thursday.
Before Biden was elected, Israel played a crucial role in keeping the CIA up to speed with Iran’s nuclear program, after the American agency lost a number of critical informants who were based in the Islamic country.
Because of Biden’s outspoken support for a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu decided to cut down on sharing information with the U.S. about the Iranian program and Israel’s efforts to stymie it.
Just before a massive explosion at the Natanz nuclear development center in Iran, for which Israel never formally denied or took credit, Netanyahu reportedly ordered a reduction in the amount of intelligence shared with the American security establishment.
Senior Biden administration officials told the Times that the Natanz explosion had violated a status-quo agreement between the U.S. and Israel that the Jewish State would give American intelligence agencies a heads-up before taking such actions.
Current Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is spending the week in meetings with Biden and other American officials in Washington, and officials told the Times that a major goal for the trip was bridging the intelligence gap.
“The sharing of intelligence and operational activity between Israel and the United States is one of the most important subjects on the agenda for the meeting,” Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi Farkash, a former director of Israeli military intelligence, told the Times.
“Israel has developed unique capabilities for intelligence collection in a number of enemy countries, capabilities that the United States was not able to grow on its own and without which its national security would be vulnerable.”
However, before cooperation between the two nations can be fully restored, Bennett will likely need to determine if the Biden administration will be accepting of Israel’s covert actions, both in the region and in Iran, to mitigate the nuclear threat.
Citing the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel stretching back decades, former CIA official William Hurd expressed optimism that the countries could resume their previous levels of cooperation.
“You have people within both intelligence organizations that have had relationships for a very long time,” said Hurd.
“There is a closeness and an ability to potentially smooth out some of the problems that may manifest from the leaders.”