'Dubai hit may harm EU-Israel ties'

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

Mabhouh 311 AP (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Mabhouh 311 AP
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
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.
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 Mabhouhused altered British, Irish, French and German passports.
Although the EU is not directly responsible for passport issues, whichare under the individual jurisdiction of its 27 members, it will likelysupport any measures that the affected nations may propose.
The EU diplomat spoke a day before the EU's 27 foreign ministers meetin Brussels. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will also be inBrussels to discuss bilateral matters with EU foreign policy chiefCatherine Ashton.
Lieberman, who will not attend Monday's ministerial conference, isexpected to meet several ministers from the four countries involved inthe passport controversy. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband saidlast week he will ask Lieberman for more information regarding the fakeBritish passports.