Australia expels Israeli diplomat over Dubai killing

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed in his hotel room in Dubai on 19 January

Australia has expelled an Israeli diplomat saying Israel was behind the forging of Australian passports linked to the murder of a Hamas operative in Dubai.

Australia's foreign minister said these were "not the actions of a friend".

The UK took similar action in March, after concluding that Israel was responsible for the use of forged UK passports in the plot.

The Israeli foreign ministry said Australia's decision was disappointing.

Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said it was "not in line with the importance and the quality of the relationship between our countries".

'Sorrow not anger'

At least four forged Australian passports were used in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January. The originals belonged to Australians living in Israel.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith: "I have asked that the withdrawal be effective within the week"

The Australian government said a police investigation had left it in no doubt that the Israeli authorities were behind "the abuse and counterfeiting of the passports".

As a result Foreign Minister Stephen Smith asked Israel to withdraw a diplomat, whom he did not identify

"The decision to ask Israel to remove from Australia one of its officers at the Israeli embassy in Canberra is not something which fills the Australian government with any joy," he said.

"On the contrary, the decision was made much more in sorrow than in anger."

Passports from France, Ireland, Germany and Britain were used in the operation, and in March, the British government expelled an Israeli diplomat from London.

The Israeli government has said there is no proof that it was behind the killing, although Dubai officials have said they are 99.9% sure that agents from Mossad were responsible.

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