WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — A new book from a British-Israeli political scientists cites purported transcripts showing that Israel spied on and eavesdropped on phone conversation between former U.S. president Bill Clinton and late Syrian leader Hafez Assad during 1990s peace negotiations between Israel and Syria, Newsweek reports.
Although the spying reports have been adamantly denied by Israeli and U.S. officials, Ahron Bregman’s, “Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories,” cites alleged verbatim transcripts of Clinton-Assad calls obtained through “private sources.”
The claims made in Bregman’s book are the latest in a series of reports suggesting sustained Israeli spying on U.S. activities.
Bregman writes that Israel listened in to Syria’s foreign minister as he and Hafez Assad discussed private meetings the leaders were having with the American officials. The author claims to have received exact transcripts of confidential discussions between Clinton and then-prime minister Ehud Barak.
A letter marked “SECRET” from Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – and intended for current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – was also allegedly received by the author. The letter is said to contain the Americans’ promise to check with Israel before offering any type of peace deal with the Arabs.
“Recognizing the desirability of avoiding putting forward proposals that Israel would consider unsatisfactory,” Albright reportedly wrote to Netanyahu in November, 1998, “the US will conduct a thorough consultation process with Israel in advance with respect to any ideas the US may wish to offer to the parties for their consideration.”
“This would be particularly true,” Albright wrote, “with respect to security issues or territorial issues related to security…”
Bregman writes that “Israeli agents” intercepted such phone calls, although he said he is “not sure now” and “didn’t know at the time” how the Israelis were eavesdropping.
“No doubt that tapping the telephones of Clinton and of the Syrians negotiating with Israelis in the US, as I describe, gave Israel a huge advantage, allowing them to be ahead of the game in peace negotiations and know what to expect in the actual talks and maneuver accordingly,” he said.
All U.S. officials and Israeli embassy officials in Washington declined to comment on the reports.