An Israeli diplomat is to be expelled from Britain over the use of UK passports by agents who are alleged to have assassinated a Hamas commander in Dubai, reports suggest.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband will make a statement to Parliament at 3:30pm about the diplomatic row with Israel over the fake documents used by suspected Mossad agents earlier this year. Sources have said Britain will expel an Israeli diplomat although the Foreign Office has refused to confirm or deny the reports.
Israel’s ambassador to London Ron Prosor was summoned to the Foreign Office on Monday to hear the results of an inquiry into the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, whose body was discovered in a luxury Dubai hotel room in January.
The UK reacted angrily when it emerged that 12 cloned British passports were used in the hit on al-Mabhouh, the founder of Hamas’s military wing, in his hotel room on 19 January.
Dubai officials said they are “99 per cent certain” that Mossad agents from Israeli’s security service were behind the murder. Police in Dubai released CCTV video of the assassination earlier this year in which they identified a number of suspects. A total of 26 suspects have now been identified.
Tel Aviv has refused to confirm or deny the link between the assassination and Mossad.
Paul Keeley, one of the Britons whose name was used by agents, told Channel 4 News that although the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat would be “fantastic”, all that mattered to him was the return of his identity.
“I have my passport back. It’s over,” he said.
Miliband branded the abuse of ID documents “outrageous” and demanded that Israel co-operate fully with the UK’s investigation.
Israel’s ambassador was summoned last month to discuss the situation where he denied there was any “additional information” to give.
Investigators from Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency are looking into the use of the cloned British passports in the attack.
The expulsion, if confirmed, would not be the first time Britain and Israel have clashed over Mossad.
In 1987 Israel promised to stop the practise of forging UK documents after eight British blank passports, reckoned to be for Mossad agents, were left in a phone booth in West Germany.
An Israeli diplomat was also expelled following an espionage row in the 1980s. The diplomat, Arie Regev, was described at the time by informed British sources as an agent for Israel’s Mossad secret service.
Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister at the time, ordered Mossad’s London office closed following the deterioration in relations.
The 12 suspects who held forged British passports.