A thorough British investigation concluded that Israel was behind the forging of British passports used by the alleged assassins of Hamas man Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, Britain's foreign secretary told parliament Tuesday.
David Miliband added that an Israeli diplomat has been expelled from London over the alleged use of forged UK passports.
Members of alleged hit team (Photo: AFP)
The foreign Secretary told lawmakers on Tuesday that the diplomat, who has not been named, was removed following an investigation into the use of 12 fake passports in the January 20 slaying in Dubai.
Britain now seeks assurances that Israel will not be party to the misuse of passports in the future, Miliband said. He noted that he handed over a letter to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, seeking an official guarantee that Israel will never again misuse UK passports.
Miliband said Israel's actions had put British nationals at risk and showed a "profound disregard" for Britain's sovereignty. He said the fact that Israel is a longtime ally with close business, personal and political ties to Britain "adds insult to injury" in this case.
The foreign secretary said Britain will continue to support Israel's bid for security and stability but that Israel's actions had been completely unacceptable. He added that a British investigation found there are "compelling reasons to believe that Israel was responsible" for the forged passports.
Following Miliband's statement, Foreign Minister Lieberman said Israel attributes great significance to its ties with Britain.
"We maintain several dialogues with them on sensitive issues and regret the British decision," he said, adding that Israel had not bee presented with any proof pointing to its connection to the affair.
Israel's ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, said Israel was "disappointed by the decision of the British government" but affirmed his commitment to a relationship "of mutual importance."
According to unofficial remarks by embassy staff, the expulsion of a "senior Israeli diplomat" – reportedly the Mossad's representative in London – constitutes lip service and an appeal to the Arab vote ahead of the upcoming elections.
Hagit Kleiman contributed to the story