Israel reportedly provided the US with the highly classified intelligence that President Donald Trump shared with top Russian brass in a White House meeting last week, according to the New York Times.
If the report is true, it's troubling for a number of reasons. For starters, Israel is a critical American ally, and one of the foremost intelligence collectors in the Middle East. In sharing prized Israeli intelligence with Russia, Trump might have damaged the US's relationship with a key partner. On top of that, Russia has close ties to Iran—a country that Israel has a long history of tension with—and any intel passed to them could put Israel at risk.
For their part, Israeli officials refused to confirm that the info came from them, and stressed that they'd maintain a close relationship with the US on fighting terrorism. Still, the revelation may cause some friction when Trump visits the country later this month on his first foreign trip.
"Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump," Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the US, told the Times.
At a press conference on Tuesday, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters that Trump disclosed the intel off the cuff without being briefed on where it had come from. However, one current and one former official briefed on the intelligence told the Times Israel not only provided America with at least some of the info Trump disclosed to Russia, but specifically warned the US to handle that intel carefully.
The Washington Post first reported the story on Monday, revealing that Trump had discussed classified intel about an ISIS terror threat with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the White House. That intel, which the Times claims came from Israel, concerned a plot targeted at civilian air travel. The entire scandal has left more than a few people fearful of the future of the US's relationship with intelligence allies, and concerned with Trump's ability to handle sensitive information.
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