Israeli party leader urges PM to resign amid spy claims

Israeli opposition leader Avi Gabbay has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down over reports that he spied on a number of security officials, Israeli media has reported.

On Thursday night, an investigative news program reported that Netanyahu in 2011 had asked the head of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, to monitor the phone calls of then Mossad chief Tamir Pardo and then Army Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz.

“It is inappropriate for him [Netanyahu] to take over the top of the pyramid: a prime minister who asks the Shin Bet chief to spy on his colleagues,” Gabbay, who leads Israel’s Labor Party, was later quoted as saying by Israel’s Channel 2.

“He must go home,” Gabbay added. “There is no honor in his actions. He has trampled on the sanctity of the state.”

In a statement issued Friday, Netanyahu’s office denied the allegations made in the news report.

Pardo, the former Mossad chief, has been quoted as saying that in 2011 Netanyahu had asked Yoram Cohen, Shin Bet’s chief at the time, to use his service to spy on senior officials, including himself.

Netanyahu’s requests were, however, reportedly turned down by Cohen.

“Monitoring people is an act of mistrust; spying on the chief of Mossad — he [Netanyahu] crossed the line,” Pardo was quoted as saying.