Israel kept US in the dark over its activities, declassified CIA documents reveal

Ben Kentish
Israel has traditionally enjoyed a close relationship with the US: PA Archive/PA Images

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was unable to glean many secrets about Israel, newly declassified documents reveal.

Around 1 million previously unseen documents recently released by the US spy agency illustrate the nature of the relationship between the two allies.

They reveal that the CIA established a dedicated team to assess the physical and mental health of world leaders including Soviet Union general secretaries, France’s Francois Mitterrand and former Cuban president Fidel Castro.

As well as analysing video footage and photos for signs of ill-health, the team also employed expert psychiatrists to assess the mental state of global politicians and brief US Presidents on what tactics to adopt in discussions with them.

Despite this, the CIA was completely unaware that Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel between 1969 and 1974, had terminal lymphoma. Agents only found out about it when Ms Meir died in 1978.

“We had absolutely no idea of her fatal illness,” one wrote in a classified document, according to Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

They also reveal that the US was not aware of the motivations behind Israeli’s decision to use public radio to issue a mock call-up notice to army reservists in April 1959.

The real reason for the fake call-up notice was to set up an ambush for the Egyptian Air force by creating the impression that Israel was about to attack.

Israeli leaders believed Egypt would respond to the announcement by sending its planes to conduct surveillance missions over the Negev desert, where the Israeli Air Force could intercept them.

The US has long enjoyed a close relationship with Israel but the new documents raise questions about the degree of trust between the two countries’ intelligence agencies.

However, the papers relate to events that took place more than 30 years ago and are not necessarily evidence of the nature of the US’s relationship with Israel today.

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