Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Australia expels Israeli diplomat over forged passports

Australia has moved to expel an Israeli diplomat (AP)

Australia has moved to expel an Israeli diplomat after investigators concluded Israel was responsible for forging four Australian passports that were used in the killing of a Hamas operative in Dubai.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told Parliament the operation to kill Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room in January was not the first time Israel forged Australian travel documents.

He did not elaborate on previous incidents, but said the latest transgression breached "confidential undertakings" between the two countries and were "not the actions of a friend".

Mr Smith said Israel had been asked to withdraw a diplomat.

An Israeli embassy official was not immediately available for comment.

Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat in March after similarly concluding there was compelling evidence that Israel was responsible for the use of doctored British passports in the plot to kill Mr al-Mabhouh on January 20.

Then Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the expelled diplomat, who was not named, was ordered to leave following an investigation into the use of 12 fake British passports linked to the assassination.

Dubai authorities accuse Israel's Mossad intelligence agency of carrying out the killing in a luxury hotel room, and identified at least 26 suspects from an alleged hit squad.

Mr Smith said: "The high quality of these counterfeited passports points to the involvement of a state intelligence service."

He said Australia's investigation by police and intelligence services "left the government in no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports".

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