Israeli cyber intelligence company NSO asked the Israeli government for assistance in trying to lift sanctions imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, according to a letter obtained by Axios.
The department’s decision last week to black list NSO for engaging in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States was the first time the U.S. government has targeted Israeli cyber companies, which receive their export licenses from the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
NSO’s CEO Shalev Hulio last Tuesday sent a letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with copies to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Hulio classified the letter as “Secret.”
Senior Israeli officials told me that after the U.S. announcement last week, Israeli government officials held consultations and considered protesting to the Biden administration and demanding it to reverse the decision, but these options were ultimately dropped.
Axios quoted an Israeli official as saying that Tel Aviv would like to hear from the Americans any information about the Israeli electronic intelligence company.
According to the same website, NSO claimed that the US sanctions came as a result of an organized campaign by anti-Israel organizations to harm Israeli companies for political reasons.
This comes, while the CEO of NSO Corporation said that the US decision could lead to hundreds of Israeli company employees losing their jobs, stressing that official support from the Israeli government is a prerequisite for efforts to lift US sanctions.
The Israeli Defense and Foreign ministries want to start a dialogue with the Biden administration on the broader issue of exports of cyber spying software, Israeli officials said.
“We want to talk to the U.S. first in order to make sure that the NSO affair didn’t damage our bilateral relations. We would also want to hear from the U.S. if they have any information we need to know about NSO, ”a senior Israeli official told Axios.