International Middle East

Liberals in Israel’s government will meet with the Defense Minister to discuss Pegasus

On Monday, a liberal party in Israel’s ruling coalition said it would question the Defense Ministry about Israeli spyware exports connected to hacking of journalists’, civil employees’, and rights activists’ phones around the world, according to media reports.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, head of the Meretz party and a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s decision-making security cabinet, told reporters he would meet Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday to discuss the exports by NSO Group.

The Defence Ministry, which licenses the exports, did not immediately comment.

An investigation by 17 media organisations published on Sunday said NSO’s spyware was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and rights activists. Reuters was not able to verify the accusations independently.

NSO has denied what it called “the false allegations” raised by the media organizations and said it sells technology only to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of vetted governments in order to fight terrorism and crime.

Speaking during a televised Meretz faction meeting, lawmaker Mossi Raz called on the party to demand that Israel halt NSO exports, which he likened to “exporting weaponry, which is forbidden to non-democratic countries”.

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