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Australia expels Israeli diplomat
Allies fall out over use of fake passports in Dubai killing of Hamas leader.
Last Modified: 24 May 2010 15:23 GMT
Yuval Rotem, the Israeli ambassador to Australia, has not commented on the explusion [Reuters]

Australia has ordered the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat over the use of fake passports in the assassination of a senior Hamas commander in Dubai in January.

Australian investigators say Israel was responsible for forging four Australian passports that were used in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel.

"These investigations and advice have left the government in no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports," Stephen Smith, the Australian foreign minister, told Australia's parliament on Monday.

Smitth said that the operation to kill Al-Mabhouh was not the first time Israel had forged Australian travel documents. He did not elaborate on previous incidents.

Australian investigators concluded the fake passports were the work of Mossad, Israel's state intelligence agency.

"No government can tolerate the abuse of its passports, especially by a foreign government," the foreign minister said.

"This represents a clear affront to the security of our passport system."

Australia and Israel had been close allies prior to the incident.

Furor

The scandal over the use of fake passports erupted after the January 20 murder of the Hamas commander.

Police in Dubai identified dozens of people involved in the assassination, who entered the country using fraudulent British, Irish, French, German and Australian passports.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Dubai police are also seeking the arrest of another British man in connection with the assassination.

Interpol is understood to have issued an arrest warrant for Christopher Lockwood, a 62-year-old British national, following a request from the Dubai police.

Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat in March after also concluding that Israel was responsible for forging 12 British passports to facilitate the killing.

In February, Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, said there was no evidence to link his country to the assassination. 

Source:
Agencies
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