Israel furious after UK expels diplomat

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli lawmakers were furious on Tuesday after British Foreign Secretary David Miliband concluded that Israel was behind the misuse of six British passports in the January assassination of a Hamas operative in Dubai, and expelled an Israeli diplomat as punishment.

Speaking before Parliament, Miliband insisted that investigators had conclusively determined that the forged passports were the work of Israel's Mossad spy agency, and condemned what he called "intolerable" behavior on Israel's part.

"No country or government could stand by in such a situation," declared Miliband.

It was not revealed which diplomat from the Israeli Embassy in London was expelled, but media speculation was that the local Mossad representative was sent back to Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that no evidence of Israeli involvement had been provided, and lamented what he called an unfortunate decision by the British.

Meanwhile, Israeli lawmakers blasted Miliband for what they termed "hypocrisy" and accused him of trying to curry favor with the hard left-wing of British politics ahead of upcoming elections.

One official told the Jerusalem Post that Britain's intelligence services "know how things work," and that London's reaction was grossly exaggerated. He also said it was somewhat hypocritical for Britain to so easily dismiss any wrongdoing it is accused of in Iraq or Afghanistan, and then so viciously attack Israel over similar accusations.

Other officials noted that London had certainly investigated the passport incident with amazing speed, considering that the British government had so much trouble helping Israel investigate who was behind sending two British citizens to carry out a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in 2003.

The harshest response came from right-wing Israeli lawmaker Aryeh Eldad (National Union), who told the British Sky network that Israel should in turn expel a British diplomat.

"Who gave the British the right to judge us on the war on terror?" demanded Eldad.

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