Israel finds Australian support

Opposition head urges gov't not to follow UK and expel diplomat in Dubai case.

tony abbot (photo credit: BLOOMBERG)
tony abbot
(photo credit: BLOOMBERG)
Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott called on his government over the weekend not to follow Britain’s lead and expel an Israeli diplomat for the alleged forgery of passports used by the team that assassinated Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January.
Abbott’s call for restraint comes as the Kevin Rudd government is awaiting the results of an Australian investigation into the matter, and will then have to decide how to react.
According to a report in Saturday’s Weekend Australian newspaper, Abbott – leader of the center-right Liberal Party – called on the center-right Rudd government to ignore the precedent set by Britain, which last week very publicly expelled an Israeli diplomat, believed to be the Mossad’s representative in London, over the flap.
“We can never forget that Israel is a country under existential threat in a way Australians find difficult to understand,” Abbott told The Weekend Australian. “It’s also the only pluralist democracy in the Middle East.”
“We have to understand that Israel sometimes has to do something which mercifully other countries are spared the necessity of doing,” he said. “It strikes me that it would be an overreaction to expel an Israeli diplomat.”
Twelve British, eight Irish, four Australian, two French and a German passport were allegedly used by the hit squad that killed Mabhouh.
The Australians, like the British, sent an independent team to Israel to investigate the matter.
Britain shared its findings that concluded Israel was responsible for the forgeries with Australia and the other governments involved, and one Israeli official said he was left with the impression that British Foreign Secretary David Miliband was encouraging the other countries to draw similar conclusions and take similar retaliatory actions.
The Weekend Australian also quoted sources saying that the Australian intelligence agencies used forged passports in their clandestine work.
The paper quoted opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishopsaying, “It would be naive in the extreme to believe a foreign powernever used a forged passport. The Australian government would have tobe very careful to ensure that Australian agencies never used forgedpassports.”
The paper also reported that Bishop had advised Rudd not to “politicize this case in an election year.”