U.K. expels Israeli over Dubai killing

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Britain has expelled an Israeli diplomat from London over the use of forged passports in the suspected Mossad assassination of a Hamas operative, a top official has said.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband told legislators Tuesday that the diplomat, who has not been named, was removed following an investigation into the use of 12 fake U.K. passports in the Jan. 20 slaying in Dubai.

A British investigation found there are “compelling reasons to believe that Israel was responsible” for the slaying, Miliband said.

Israel has declined to confirm or deny whether it was involved.

Israel’s actions had put British nationals at risk and showed a “profound disregard” for Britain’s sovereignty, Miliband said, adding that Israel’s longtime 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.

Israel’s foreign ministry confirmed that the country’s ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor was called to London’s Foreign Office on Monday for talks, but declined to provide further details.

There was no suggestion the ambassador himself would be expelled. The diplomat ordered out of Britain was expected to be a lower-ranking official.

Speaking to reporters after the expulsion was announced, Prosor said Israel was “disappointed by the decision of the British government” but affirmed his commitment to a relationship “of mutual importance.”

Interpol involvement

Dubai authorities have accused Israel’s Mossad spy agency of being behind the slaying of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a luxury hotel room, and have identified at least 26 suspects of an alleged hit squad that travelled to Dubai on fake identities and forged European and Australian passports.

Interpol has unveiled a wanted list of 27 people in connection with the slaying. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied any involvement in al-Mabhouh’s killing.

At least 15 of the names used by the suspected killers match those of Israeli citizens who are dual nationals of Western countries, including eight Israeli-British dual nationals. All have denied involvement, saying their identities were stolen.

Diplomatic expulsions are a rare sanction against foreign governments. Britain kicked out four Russian diplomats in 2007 over the country’s refusal to extradite to London a suspect in the poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko.

The country’s Serious and Organized Crime Agency has conducted an inquiry into the use of forged British passports, but is not involved in wider inquiries by Dubai police into the killing.

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