German Paper Reports Israel Spied On John Kerry's Calls

A report from Der Spiegel says Israel eavesdropped on American diplomatic calls, continuing a long tradition of allies spying on each other.

German Paper Reports Israel Spied On John Kerry's Calls
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John Kerry's diplomatic phone calls were wiretapped by Israeli intelligence, according to a report from German magazine Der Spiegel. (Via Getty Images)

The magazine says Kerry used unencrypted devices to make some diplomatic calls that were then intercepted by Israel and one other country's intelligence agencies. 

Citing anonymous sources, Der Spiegel writes, "​​The government in Jerusalem then used the information obtained in international negotiations aiming to reach a diplomatic solution in the Middle East."

Kerry has gotten his share of criticism in Israel for his handling of peace talks there, which in turn elicited a pushback from American officials. (Via C-SPAN)

​​"He has been persistent, he has worked very hard, he has endured on many occasions, really unfair criticism." (Via CBS)

But if Der Spiegel's report is true, it wouldn't be without precedent. 

As Newsweek reports, during President Bill Clinton's Middle East peace talks 15 years ago, Israeli intelligence wiretapped phone calls between Clinton and Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad — according to an Israeli political scientist. 

And there was the case of Jonathan Jay Pollard, who turned over American intelligence to Israel in the 1980s. The New York Times reports U.S. officials were considering his release as a bargaining chip during peace talks back in March. 

Still, when it comes to spying on allies, the U.S. doesn't really have the cleanest record to point to. 

The revelation that U.S. intelligence had spied on German officials, including Angela Merkel, prompted outrage in Germany and across Europe. (Via Fox News)

And, as The Guardian reports, the NSA also monitored the calls of as many as 35 world leaders, according to a memo leaked by Edward Snowden.

The clincher though, has to be that the U.S. has reportedly spied on Israel as well: with a former FBI translator telling The New York Times the bureau had wire-tapped phones at the Israeli embassy in Washington.

So it seems everybody's been spying on everybody: but it raises the question— why? 

Well, CNN says it might be contingency planning, writing, "Friendly nations spy on one another, if only for this reality: a friend today may not be a friend tomorrow, experts say."

In the latest case, with Secretary Kerry, neither government has commented on the report.