Following reports that the United States was monitoring Israeli senior ministers' emails and phone calls, it was revealed that in June 2007, shortly after Ehud Barak was appointed defense minister, the Israeli defense establishment noted the US administration had rented an apartment on the same Tel Aviv street in which Barak was residing, right across from his high-rise apartment, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.
Washington insisted there was no causal link between Barak's appointment and the renting of the apartment, (which they insisted was for a Marine who was working in the American embassy's security team) despite the fact that Israeli intelligence detected sizable amounts of electronic equipment delivered to the US-rented apartment.
Intelligence documents disclosed over the weekend confirmed the Israeli suspicion, as Friday's reports – according to which the National Security Agency and Britain's General Communications Headquarters (GHCQ) intercepted the email traffic of former Israeli leadership – pertained to the years 2008-2009, when Barak was defense minister.
The reports, by Der Spiegel, The New York Times and The Guardian, said the offices of then prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu were also being monitored.
Barak refuse to comment, but has spoken out on similar issues in the past, and has always said, since his appointment to the chief of the military intelligence directorate in 1983, that he was always taking into account the fact that he might be monitored.
Olmert, who was the prime minister during most of the time when the surveillance is known to have taken place, stressed that the email account that was being monitored was "public, and the chance that any security or intelligence damage was made is close to nothing."
Sources with the Israeli defense nonetheless estimate that recent revelations might be the tip of the iceberg and though many of the monitored outlets seemed to pose no great risk, more sensitive surveillance incidents might be revealed.
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz addressed the reports, saying "We do not monitor the president of the United States, the White House or the US Secretary of Defense. We need to reach a settlement with the United States."
Steinitz said that Israel was aware that "everyone wants to monitor us," stating that "it is illegitimate" to monitor senior Israeli
officials, seeing as Israel has an intelligence alliance with the United States. "Monitoring the prime minister and the defense minister is unacceptable," he added.
Israeli sources also stressed that in light of the spionage reports, the United States' detention of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is illegitimate. "If the Snowden affair manages to shock anyone in the wall of American hypocrisy that is holding Pollard there – then maybe this report will have done some good," a source said.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said: "Now the secret is out. The United States has been systematically spying on the political-security leadership. Is that what friends do? Pollard was arrested for much less. I intend to propose to the cabinet today that Israel demand an American commitment to stop the surveillance and immediately release Pollard in light of recent reports.