As President Biden returns to the US from a visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia, one insider noted a disturbing factor contributing to the erosion of the relationship between the US and Israel; White House intel leaks that harm Israel’s security interests.
Ron Dermer is an American-born political consultant and diplomat who served as the Israeli Ambassador to the United States from 2013 to 2021. He previously served as Israel’s economic envoy to the United States from 2005 to 2008 and is a long-time adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu. Dermer outlined this theory in an interview on the podcast “Diplomatically Incorrect” with The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), a pro-Israeli lobby and think-tank, one month ago in preparation for Biden’s visit.
The interview began with Dermer and Dr. Michael Makovsky discussing a New York Times article reporting on the assassination of Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who was shot dead outside his Tehran home. The source or the story was a White House leak that gave out confidential intel on Israeli operations.
Dermer suggested that the leak was intended to divert blame away from Washington in an effort to improve US-Iran relations.
“That’s very disturbing because that would only encourage attacks against Israelis,” he said. “The fear of potential American action against Iran or other actors that deters aggression. For the United States to think they’re going to stabilize the situation by distancing themselves from Israel not only endangers Israeli citizens and officials but also makes the chance of an attack much higher.”
Interpreting these leaks as a “message to Israel that the U.S. disagrees with the action that was taken,” Derner said, “And essentially what that means is they are trying to curtail Israel’s freedom of operation” to combat Iranian aggression.”
Unfortunately, there is a long history of such US intel leaks that harm Israel. Dermer referred to leaks that came out in 2007 when the NYT published a series of articles revealing that Israel was responsible for bombing a nuclear reactor in Syria. The information was attributed to anonymous US intelligence sources.
Dermer also cited leaks by the Obama administration. In 2012, anonymous officials told media outlets about Israeli military plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to discourage said attacks. The Obama administration claimed it was planning sanctions to prevent a nuclear Iran. In truth, Obama negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) against Israel’s strident objections.
In 2019, during the Trump administration, officials confirmed Israel bombed Iranian targets in Iraq.
But according to media reports, these leaks have increased under the Biden administration. Last year, unnamed U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal that Israel attacked several Iranian ships. Last month, unnamed US officials recently told CNN that Israel has ramped up its covert attacks in Iran and is largely keeping the U.S. in the dark.
Similar to the strongarm tactics under Obama, the Biden administration warned Israel last November against “counterproductive” operations targeting Iran’s nuclear program.
An article in Just the News cited these instances, claiming that repeated leaks to the media have led Israel, in many cases, to give as little notice as possible to Washington about operations against Iran. And similar to the leaks under Obama, the leaks from the current administration are intended to facilitate the reinstatement of the JCPOA with Iran.