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Daily View: What now for UK-Israel relations?

Clare Spencer | 09:47 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Faked British Passports. Top row, from left: James Leonard Clarke, Jonathan Louis Graham, Paul John Keeley. Bottom row, from left: Michael Lawrence Barney, Melvyn Adam Mildiner, Stephen Daniel HodesThe Foreign Office expelled an Israeli diplomat over the alleged forging of British passports relating to the assassination of a Hamas terrorist in Dubai. British press commentators look at what is next for the relationship between Israel and the UK.

Kim Sengupta in the Independent thinks any intelligence sharing will eventually be reinstated but what has happened highlights broader issues about the way Mossad operates:

"This was the latest in a number of Mossad missions deemed to have been flawed. And it is this weakness, rather than the anger of Britain and other countries, which may curtail the tenure of Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad's external arm. If that happens, London and Washington can pretend it was indeed their pressure which led to his dismissal."

The Daily Mail takes the latest news personally:

"The Mail has long been a firm friend of Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East. But seldom has our friendship been more sorely tested.
In an earlier age, this country would have raised hell if a foreign government had cloned British passports and used them in an assassination plot.
As it is, the Israelis are lucky we've done no more than expel one of their diplomats."

The Guardian's editorial says David Miliband's decision to expel a diplomat had a knock-on effect on the relationship between the US and Israel:

"As Mr Miliband was speaking, the gap that had opened up between the United States and Israel over its refusal to stop building in East Jerusalem, widened still further... Both events in London and Washington are the marks of an arrogant nation that has overreached itself. The forging of British passports is the work of a country which believes it can act with impunity when planning the murder of its enemies, while simultaneously claiming to share the values of a law-based state."

The editor of the Jewish Chronicle Stephen Pollard says in the Telegraph that this spat is insignificant:

"The crisis in relations between the UK and Israel, in other words, is not of enduring interest, let alone impact. It will soon be forgotten, in part because the UK is only a bit-part player in the Middle East. It is a different matter between the US and Israel.
And that crisis is not about assassinations in Dubai or passport cloning, but the very substance of statehood and security."

In the Telegraph Douglas Murray asks why people linked to al-Qaeda are not also being expelled:

"I for one am deeply grateful to the UK government for their sudden concern for the sanctity of UK passports and the security of UK passport holders. Though it may be a little late in the day, has the Government thought about turning this concern towards people who actually are terrorists?"

A National Union Party member of the Knesset Arieh Eldad expressed anger on the Today Programme:

"I think Britain forgot that we share the same war against terrorism. And yesterday's step was a kind of hypocrisy towards Israel... If the MI5 would know that in order to prevent the next bombing in London underground you have to steal 12 Israelis' identities, go ahead."

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Links in full

BBC NewsBBC | Israeli press reaction to diplomat expulsion
TelegraphCon Coughlin | Telegraph | Israel must sack the head of Mossad for this grave insult
IndependentKim Sengupta | Independent | Israelis have been expelled before - and will be again
MailDaily Mail | Britain's friendship with Israel sorely tested
GuardianGuardian | Israel and Britain: The rule of law
TelegraphDouglas Murray | Telegraph | Look who the British government won't get rid of...
TelegraphStephen Pollard | Telegraph | Israel and Britain: when friends fall out
BBC NewsBBC Today Programme | 'A presentation of hypocrisy' towards Israel

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