In a sign that diplomatic fallout from the “passport scandal” was diminishing, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the issue was not raised in a series of meetings he held Tuesday in Brussels with a number of European counterparts.
The issue of forged European passports used to kill senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was raised on Monday, however, when he met British Foreign Minister David Miliband and Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin, as well as at a dinner meeting with the EU’s new foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.
The two-hour meeting with Ashton, their first since she took over her new responsibilities in December, focused – according to a statement issued by Lieberman – on Iran and the Palestinian issue. The meeting included a 40-minute private discussion.
Even as the Mabhouh issue seemed to be receding in diplomatic circles, the issue triggered an angry exchange in the Knesset, with Arab Israeli MKs calling for a probe, and Likud MK Carmel Shama countering that “killing a terrorist like Mabhouh was a kind of mitzvah.” Shama’s comment came at a meeting of the Knesset Committee, after MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List-Ta’al) blasted the committee’s refusal to hold a discussion on Mabhouh’s assassination.
“Israel’s behavior is like the mafia. According to international law, a crime was committed,” Sanaa said. “The entire assassination is captured and documented on camera. The incident must be investigated and [those responsible] must be brought to justice. In a civilized state the prime minister would pay the price and resign,” he asserted.
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) responded to Sanaa’s remarks, saying that the Dubai police chief was the hero of the affair.
“That clown?” Shama replied.
“Israel has not admitted officially to carrying out the hit, but I would be very sorry to learn that Israel was not behind the assassination,” Shama said.
“Killing a terrorist like Mabhouh is a kind of mitzvah and it’s a shame that the Arab MKs represent terrorists in Gaza and not the interest of Israeli Arabs. If necessary, I would be willing to give my passport for the next assassination,” Shama asserted.
Shama’s remark came even as Lieberman said in Brussels Monday that there was no evidence linking Israel to the killing, and that the Arab world always blames Israel for “everything.”
Meanwhile, Dubai’s police announced that four other suspects carrying European passports – two from England and two from Ireland – were part of the alleged hit squad. This brings to 18 the number of suspects the Dubai police say were involved who traveled on forged EU passports.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. Buy it now, Special offer. Come meet Israel's top leaders