Passport affair
Photo: AFP

Predictable British protest

British response to passport affair mild, affected by upcoming UK elections

The British government's decision to expel the Mossad's representative in London is a predictable step on the part of a state that does not wish to see the passports of its citizens forged, irrespective of the objective and for aims such as assassinations. If the passports were used that way, the Brits expect that this would not be revealed.


Yet as this was not the case, there is a price to be paid; this price has been exacted mostly over the revelation of the operation, rather than the act in and of itself.


Those arguing that the British move is a harsh and unprecedented step between friendly states express exaggerated concern. The British action at this time constitutes a response to an act that caused it some embarrassment. Hence, the Mossad representative's expulsion marks a predictable diplomatic protest, in a bid to close the case without prompting an earthquake.


Moreover, Britain is facing an upcoming election. Its government is perceived to be friendlier to Israel than British intellectuals and journalists who wish to see a much firmer policy adopted towards it, as manifested through the academic boycott and acts aimed at preventing senior Israeli officials from entering Britain. Hence, should the British government refrain from responding to the forging of the passports, it can expect to face attacks in parliament. This is the domestic political element that affected the current move.


However, we must keep in mind that we are not dealing with a suspension of collaboration between Israel's and Britain's intelligence agencies. We may hear criticism and possibly see similar acts on the part of other states involved in the affair, yet this is an opportunity for Israel's ambassadors to stress the need for finding another way to prevent terror acts worldwide.


This is also an opportunity to emphasize the advantages of an operation such as the one carried out in Dubai – after all, the assassination was carried out without any casualties or damages, and without aerial bombardments as happened in Tunisia in the past.


Some Australian parliamentarians who addressed the subject already said that if one wishes to avert the usages of passports of friendly countries, these countries are precisely the ones that should be acting more intensively in order to prevent terror acts. They also highlighted Israel's right to defend itself, and the fact that the modus operandi adopted in Dubai causes less damage than other counter-terror means.


Prof. Gerald Steinberg, Bar Ilan University's Political Science Department


פרסום ראשון: 03.23.10, 23:57
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