Israel vows to 'thwart election meddling' amid speculation of Russian interference

Israel vows to 'thwart election meddling' amid speculation of Russian interference
Israel’s Shin Bet security service warned that efforts were being made by a world power to intervene in the country's upcoming elections, with suspicions immediately falling on Russia.
2 min read
09 January, 2019
Israel's Shin Bet said a world power was planning to intervene in upcoming elections. [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claimed on Wednesday that his country led the world in cyber defence, after a report that an unnamed nation planned to meddle in its upcoming general election.

"Israel is prepared to thwart a cyber intervention, we're prepared for any scenario and there's no country more prepared than we are," he told reporters.

On Tuesday, privately-owned Hadashot television news reported that the head of the Shin Bet internal security agency had said that Israel was bracing for a state driven cyber intervention in the 9 April poll.

"A foreign state is planning on intervening in the upcoming elections in Israel, and it will intervene," Nadav Argaman was quoted as telling participants of a closed meeting. 

"I don't know at this stage in favour of who or against who," he reportedly said in Hebrew.

Fingers were quickly pointed toward Russia, which is accused of trying to influence the 2016 US election in favour of Donald Trump, the Brexit campaign in the UK and other recent European elections.

"We demand that the security forces make sure Putin doesn't steal the election for his friend, the dictator Bibi," said Tamar Zandberg, head of the dovish Meretz party, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

Russia denied the accusations.

"There is no such thing and no such thing is possible. Russia has not interfered and has no intensions to interfere in any elections in any country in the world," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday.

Shin Bet later issued a statement saying that Israel "has the tools to locate, monitor and thwart attempts of foreign influence, if there should be any."

"The Israeli security establishment can enable holding democratic and free elections in Israel," it said in a statement late Tuesday.

Netanyahu, who enjoys a rapport with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump, leads the polls and is widely expected to extend his long reign at the top of Israeli politics.

He is facing possible indictment in three separate corruption probes.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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