Israel says trying to mend ties with France strained due to ONS phone hack – .

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Israel says trying to mend ties with France strained due to ONS phone hack – .


National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata has reportedly visited France in recent days in an attempt to defuse a crisis involving the alleged use of Israeli spyware developed by NSO Group to hack the phones of French President Emmanuel Macron and other senior officials French.

Citing high-ranking Israeli sources, the Walla news site reported that Hulata had met Macron’s diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Bonne at the Elysee Palace, with the crisis being one of the main topics discussed.

According to the report, an international investigation which in July uncovered the alleged hacking caused a diplomatic split and Macron called Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has vowed to investigate the case. A few days later, Defense Minister Benny Gantz flew to Paris and presented the initial findings.

Walla reported that France has frozen a significant portion of diplomatic, security and intelligence ties with Israel on the matter until it is clarified, including stopping mutual visits. Hulata has since held secret talks to defuse the crisis.

Hulata reportedly presented additional findings to Bonne and offered an Israeli promise that any future offensive cyber software deal with a third country would include a clause prohibiting the targeting of French phone numbers, similar to agreements already in place with the United States and the United States. Britain.

Pegasus, made by Israeli company NSO Group, can turn on a phone’s camera or microphone and harvest its data, and was at the center of a storm in July after a list of around 50,000 surveillance targets potential in the world has been disclosed to the media.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. (Benoit Tessier / Pool / AFP; Marc Israel Sellem / Pool)

The media consortium behind the revelations, including The Washington Post, The Guardian and Le Monde in France, reported at the time that one of Macron’s phone numbers and those of five French ministers were on the list. disclosed potential targets.

The five ministers targeted were the Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer, the Minister of Territorial Cohesion Jacqueline Gourault, the Minister of Agriculture Julien Denormandie, the Minister of Housing Emmanuelle Wargon and the Minister of Overseas Sébastien Lecornu, Mediapart said.

In July, Le Monde reported that evidence of a hacking attempt had been found on the phone of former environment minister and close ally of Macron, François de Rugy, the attempt allegedly originating in Morocco.

Moroccan intelligence services have also been accused of being behind the hacking of journalists in France, but the kingdom’s government has denied the allegations and launched a lawsuit for defamation.

The NSO group has denied that Macron was among the targets of its clients.

We can “specifically go out and say with certainty that the French president, Macron, was not a target,” Chaim Gelfand, chief compliance officer at NSO Group, told Israel’s i24news television station in July.

NSO insisted that its software was intended for use only in combating terrorism and other crimes, and that the reported targeting list was unrelated to the company.

Last month, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid downplayed criticism of the NSO Group’s Israeli regulations, but pledged to step up efforts to ensure the firm’s controversial spyware does not fall between bad hands.

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