Israel should cease spying on US citizens and should stop the practice of wiretapping American phone lines, a senior Israeli intelligence official said Thursday.
The comments come after the US Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill on Thursday that would allow the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Americans’ phones and other electronic devices.
In a speech before the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would support the US bill and that Israel should not spy on the United States.
Netanyahu also called on US President Donald Trump to cancel the US State Department’s funding for Israeli spy programs and stop funding for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.
“We must stop spying and stop spying in the United State,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have repeatedly accused Washington of spying on Israel.
The US has said it has no intention of cutting off all aid to Israel, though the two countries share many interests.
Trump and Netanyahu met at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the bill.
The bill would allow Israel to spy, intercept and listen in on US telephone calls and internet communications.
“If we stop spying, it will be a huge victory for the American people,” Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly.
The U.S. has accused Israel of espionage and has called for a full inquiry into alleged espionage by the Israeli intelligence agency.
Netanyahu said the U.N. Security Council resolution was an effort by “our allies and adversaries” to “intimidate” Israel.
He said the US should also “stop spying” on the U,S.
embassy in Tel Aviv.
“This is a disgrace, this is an insult to the American spirit,” Netanyahu added.
US officials have said that Israel has no direct access to the NSA database and does not receive any of the classified material that is collected on Americans.
But Netanyahu, a former prime minister who was once considered a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president, said that the US has a right to monitor Israel’s citizens’ electronic communications.
Israel is not an ally of the US, but it does provide intelligence on Iranian nuclear activities and on the region.
The Israeli government said it would consider the new US bill before deciding whether to continue providing intelligence to the US.
“Israel has a very strong interest in maintaining an open and secure relationship with the United Kingdom and the United, and we welcome the US-EU initiative to strengthen that relationship,” a spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The UK’s Foreign Office said it welcomed the U-turn and said it will continue to work with the Us.
“to ensure the full enjoyment of our valuable intelligence relationship.”
“We will continue our work with our American partners to ensure that the United Sates intelligence services are fully integrated into the Ushas (United Nations) and that our cooperation is in line with the principles of co-operation and mutual respect,” the UK said in its statement.