Australia to expel Israeli diplomat

May 24, 2010 07:22

Investigation holds Israel responsible for forging passports.

1 minute read.

Actors mimic surveillance footage released by Duba

supermarket ad mabhouh hit 311. (photo credit: AP)

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia moved to expel an Israeli diplomat Monday after investigators concluded Israel was responsible for forging four Australian passports that were used in the slaying 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 had forged Australian travel documents. He did not elaborate on previous incidents, but said the latest transgression breached "confidential undertakings" between the two countries.

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"These are not the actions of a friend," he said.

Smith said Israel had been asked to withdraw a diplomat.

An Israeli embassy official was not immediately available for comment on Monday.

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 al-Mabhouh on Jan. 20.

British 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 have identified at least 26 suspects from an alleged hit squad.

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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