CANBERRA, May 24 (Rob Taylor/Reuters) - Australia's government said on
Monday it had ordered the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat over
the use of fake passports in the assassination of a top Hamas
militant in Dubai in January.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said a police investigation
had left no doubt Israeli intelligence services had been behind
the forgery of four Australian passports used by suspects in
the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room.
These investigations and advice have left the government
in no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and
counterfeiting of these passports, Smith told Australia's
parliament. These are not the actions of a friend.
The Australian government ordered an inquiry into the fake
passports by police and intelligence services, who visited
Israel and found the four citizens involved had been innocent
of any involvement.
No government can tolerate the abuse of its passports,
especially by a foreign government, Smith said. This is not
what we expect from a nation with whom we have had such a
close, friendly and supportive relationship.
The government, he said, had asked that a member of
Israel's Australian embassy in Canberra be withdrawn within a
week. Australia and Israel are traditionally close allies and
an embassy spokesman said he regretted the decision.
We feel it is not reflective of the extensive relationship
between the two nations, the spokesman said.
Dubai authorities have given names of alleged members of
the team that tracked and killed the Palestinian, and said they
used fraudulent British, Irish, French, German and Australian
passports to enter and leave Dubai.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in February
there was no evidence to link his country to the killing, which
also prompted Britain to expel an Israeli in March.
But Britain's then-government said an investigation by the
country's Serious Organised Crime Agency had found 12 forged
British passports were used in the hit, copied from genuine
Four Australians -- Nicole McCabe, Joshua Bruce, Adam
Korman and Joshua Krycer -- had their identities stolen and
used in fake passports held by suspects believed to be involved
in the assassination, Smith said.
Mabhouh, born in the Gaza Strip, had lived in Syria since
1989 and Israeli and Palestinian sources have said he played a
key role in smuggling Iranian-funded arms to militants in Gaza.
Smith said the passport cloning operation used in his
killing was of high quality and had obviously been
The decision was made much more in sorrow than in anger,
he said. The decision was made in our national security
interests, made in support of the integrity of our passport
system, made in efforts to protect Australians who travel
Authorities in Dubai had already been briefed on
Australia's findings, he said, along with the other countries
involved and close Australian and Israeli ally the United