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US President Trump with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. Damage could last for years
Photo: EPA
Alex Fishman
Israel cannot ignore damage caused by Trump’s Russia leak
Analysis: Leaking information that belongs to other countries is a betrayal of trust. The Americans went wild with the Pollard affair and never forgave Israel for selling technological information to China. What the US president is doing is as serious as that.
The defense minister revealed more than he had wanted to. He tried to calm everyone down, but left behind an alarming uncertainty. Avigdor Lieberman announced Wednesday that the intelligence relations between Israel and the United States had not been affected by the reports that the American president had leaked sensitive Israeli intelligence information to the Russians.

 

 

The thing is that no one had spoken about a crisis in the intelligence ties between the two countries as a result of Donald Trump’s babbling. Israel needs the US intelligence more than the US intelligence needs Israel. The problem is what was not said in the defense minister’s statement.

 

Lieberman didn’t deny the report, neither about the information that was shared with the Russians nor about the fact that Israel was the source of that information. Moreover, he failed to address the reports about the huge damage caused by the leak. This isn’t the kind of damage that can be ignored. In general, without addressing this specific affair, when information is leaked from one country to another, in a place where there are international collaborations, more than one country is likely to suffer.

 

Trump (R) and Putin. Defending the US president is worth the Russian leader’s while. Where else will he find such a stupid rival? (Photo: AP)
Trump (R) and Putin. Defending the US president is worth the Russian leader’s while. Where else will he find such a stupid rival? (Photo: AP)

 

The US media is serving as a platform for people in the American intelligence services who have apparently decided to destroy Trump politically. Not only are they presenting the president as a threat to homeland security—almost like a Russian collaborator—in a bid to humiliate him even more, they are also exposing sensitive information and causing irreversible damage. Presenting Israel, for example, as the source of the information that was leaked to the Russians was aimed at presenting Trump as a fool who is incapable of distinguishing between different types of information and who is putting a very important ally at risk. Such a story, if true, instantly places Israel on the front against the Islamic State.

 

The damage that Trump may have caused could have repercusions that last for years, as it sometimes takes years to create accessibility to certain information, and it sometimes takes even more years to restore the damage caused to this accessibility. Whoever leaked the story to the American press understood the extent of the damage very well.

 

It’s very possible that the information Trump shared with the Russians was not dramatic. Had it been shared in a professional manner, no damage would have been done. It’s safe to assume, however, that the way those pieces of information were shared with the Russians revealed the way the information had been obtained, and exposing this to a Russian partner with different interests could destroy a unique pipe of information.

 

Israel, as reported, is an observer in the American intelligence’s most intimate forum, which includes five countries: Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Britain and the United States. This group has full cooperation and signed agreements on anything that has to do with relaying and sharing information. Israel rightfully earned its status as an observer in this exclusive group. There are detailed agreements between Israel and the US on intelligence issues. There are no such agreements between Israel and Russia. Leaking information that belongs to these countries is a betrayal of trust. The Americans went wild with the Pollard affair and never forgave Israel for selling technological information to China. What Trump is doing is as serious as that.

 

Furthermore, Israel and other countries are cooperating with different European states in the war on terror. When the French, for example, uncover an ISIS cell and prevent a terror attack at a stadium, the intelligence doesn’t necessarily come from France. When the Germans capture an ISIS cell on German soil, there is a chance that they received the warning from foreign friendly intelligence. Trump’s leak of information to the Russians may also bring to an end the European regimes’ success in taking over ISIS cells in their territory.

 

There is no doubt that senior American intelligence officials in Moscow are trying to repair the damage caused by their president. Despite his announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin has no intention of revealing the transcript of the conversations between Trump and his foreign minister, and even if he does—he won’t provide the full transcripts. Defending Trump is worth his while. Where else will he find such a stupid rival?

 

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