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UK expels Israeli diplomat over passport row

March 23, 2010 23:11 IST

Britain expelled a senior Israeli diplomat on Tuesday, amid a diplomatic row with Tel Aviv over the cloning of UK passports to plot the assassination of a top Hamas militant by suspected Mossad agents.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the House of Commons that there were "compelling reasons" to believe Israel was responsible for the passport "misuse". "Such misuse is intolerable and a hazard for the safety of British nationals," he was quoted as saying by BBC.

Miliband said a probe had found "compelling" evidence that Tel Aviv's secret service was responsible for cloning the ID documents. "I have asked that a member of the embassy of Israel be withdrawn, and this is taking place," he said.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a founding member of the Islamist militant group Hamas was killed in a Dubai hotel room on January 19. Dubai police have blamed the killing on a Mossad hit squad whose 27 members used cloned European and Australian passports. Twelve of them were travelling on forged British passports, prompting a major diplomatic row with the UK and the European Union.

Israel has rejected any link to the killing in Dubai in January. However, toxicology report released by Dubai police suggested that the top Hamas militant was injected with a fast-acting sedative before being suffocated. Soon after the killing, the hit squad went back to Israel after flying to different destinations from Dubai.

Ron Prosor, the Israeli Ambassador to London, was summoned to the Foreign Office on Monday to discuss the formal results of an investigation, which showed how the passports in question were cloned as their owners--mostly persons with dual nationality --passed through border controls heading into Israel.

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