Defense Minister Benny Gantz told his French counterpart Florence Parly on Wednesday that Israel was probing with due consideration allegations voiced against Israeli cyber intelligence firm NSO Group its Pegasus spyware was used by foreign governments to spy on politicians and journalists.
"Israel is taking the allegations seriously ... Israel grants cyber licenses only to nation-states and only to be used for dealing with terrorism and crime," Gantz's office said in a statement after the meeting.
Gantz met Parly in part to share initial findings from a government assessment of NSO Group exports to France.
The Defense Ministry said earlier on Wednesday that officials arrived at the company's headquarters in Herzliya to examine its use of the controversial spyware technology.
The ministry issued the statement as Gantz was heading to Paris to meet with Parly after it was published that French President Emmanuel Macron was on a list of potential targets for surveillance by Morocco, which used the Pegasus software, French newspaper Le Monde reported. Macron has called for an investigation.
An investigation published earlier this month by 17 media organizations, led by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories, said spyware made and licensed by NSO Group had been used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists.
The reporting included a list of 50,000 telephone numbers that were tied to NSO customers.
The reporting into the so-called Pegasus Project stressed that there was no proof that phones on the list were hacked but lab testing showed that at least 37 of 67 devices featured on the list have had traces of the Pegasus technology on them.
The list of telephone numbers was provided by Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories. According to the Washington Post, one of the media outlets involved in the project, the purpose behind the list's release remained unclear.
NSO denied allegations that its technology was misused by its customers or that the 50,000 phone numbers were in any way related to the company or its customers.
The cybersecurity company also claimed the Pegasus Project was based on a misconception and was released to the media as part of a "well-organized campaign by interested parties."
NSO said the company was careful to protect human rights and supplied its technology exclusively to governments for the purposes of counterterror and fighting crime.