'Dubai hit may harm EU-Israel ties'

"The passport controversy obviously will be harmful," says EU official.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 21, 2010 20:50
1 minute read.
A banner poster ofMahmoud al-Mabhouh

Mabhouh 311 AP. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 
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BRUSSELS — Israel's suspected role in the slaying of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai and the killers' alleged use of forged EU passports will threaten relations with the European bloc, a senior EU diplomat said Sunday.

"The passport controversy obviously will be harmful for the way Israel is treated by the EU," said the official who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

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The dispute follows earlier condemnation in Europe of Israel's 2008 operation in the Gaza Strip.

Dubai police say at least 11 suspects in the Jan. 19 killing of Mabhouh used altered British, Irish, French and German passports.

Although the EU is not directly responsible for passport issues, which are under the individual jurisdiction of its 27 members, it will likely support any measures that the affected nations may propose.

The EU diplomat spoke a day before the EU's 27 foreign ministers meet in Brussels. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will also be in Brussels to discuss bilateral matters with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Lieberman, who will not attend Monday's ministerial conference, is expected to meet several ministers from the four countries involved in the passport controversy. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said last week he will ask Lieberman for more information regarding the fake British passports.

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