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Israel Disappointed at Britain's Expulsion of Diplomat

  • Robert Berger

Britain has expelled an Israeli diplomat in an espionage affair. Our correspondent has the Israeli reaction to the move.

Israel has expressed disappointment with Britain's decision to expel an unnamed Israeli diplomat. Britain charged that Israel's Mossad spy agency forged U.K. passports in the assassination of a top Hamas operative in Dubai in January.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband addressed the House of Commons in London.

"We have concluded that there are compelling reasons to believe that Israel was responsible for the misuse of the British passports," said David Miliband. "Such misuse of British passports is intolerable."

Israel does not comment on alleged Mossad operations and has not taken responsibility for the Dubai assassination. But Dubai police produced closed circuit video that they say proves that a 26-member Mossad hit squad killed Hamas arms dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room. The team entered Dubai on false passports.

Israeli parliamentarian Tzahi Hanegbi says Israel should try to mend relations with Britain and avoid a war of words.

"My suggestion to Israel is not to publicly comment and run its dialogue with Britain the way it was held for ages, in discreet channels," said Tzahi Hanegbi.

Parliamentarian Arieh Eldad took a harder line with Britain.

"England is very famous for keeping tradition, and in this case, the tradition of hypocrisy," said Arieh Eldad. "It's an ugly, hypocritical phenomenon. Nobody nominates them as the judges in our war against terror."

He said Israel should respond in kind.

"Israel should retaliate by sending home the military attaché of the British Embassy in Israel," he said.

It's a hard time for Israel diplomatically. Israeli ties with the United States have plummeted recently over Jewish construction in disputed East Jerusalem, and now another key ally has issued a harsh rebuke. But there is an Israeli consensus on both issues: The alleged Mossad hit in Dubai was justified and Jews have the right to build anywhere in their capital, Jerusalem.

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