SPIEGEL has learned from reliable sources that Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during Middle East peace negotiations. In addition to the Israelis, at least one other intelligence service also listened in as Kerry mediated last year between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states, several intelligence service sources told SPIEGEL. Revelations of the eavesdropping could further damage already tense relations between the US government and Israel.
During the peak stage of peace talks last year, Kerry spoke regularly with high-ranking negotiating partners in the Middle East. At the time, some of these calls were not made on encrypted equipment, but instead on normal telephones, with the conversations transmitted by satellite. Intelligence agencies intercepted some of those calls. Israel thus often knew precisely what Kerry was talking to the other sides about. The government in Jerusalem then used the information obtained in international negotiations aiming to reach a diplomatic solution in the Middle East. Kerry, the magazine said, was aware of the risks but he wanted results and personal conversations were more important to him than concerns from his security advisers.
In the current Gaza conflict, the Israelis have massively criticized Kerry, with a few ministers indirectly calling on him to withdraw from peace talks. Both the US State Department and the Israeli authorities declined to comment.