The former head of Israel's intelligence agency said Friday that rebellious French officers asked Israel to aid in a plot to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle of France in 1961.

Israel instead informed de Gaulle, leading to the arrest of the plotters, Isser Harel said on Israel TV. Harel directed the Mossad from 1952-63.Maurice Schumann, a former French official who worked closely with de Gaulle, said it was "simply preposterous" for Israel to claim any role in uncovering the plot.

The plotters reportedly were out to kill de Gaulle because he agreed to allow self-determination for Algeria, then considered an integral part of France. Algeria became an independent North African republic in 1962.

De Gaulle, president from 1959 to 1969, died in 1970.

The Yediot Ahronot newspaper said Israel's knowledge of the plot began when a French officer met with Yitzhak Braun, Israel's military attache in Paris, and promised increased military aid in return for help in killing de Gaulle.