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Israeli View: The future of Israel-UK relations

Andrew Walker | 12:57 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Israeli flag and Union JackThe Israeli media has responded to the announcement that the UK Government is to expel an Israeli diplomat over the cloned British passports used in January's assassination of Hamas leader Mabhoub al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

In the English Language press Amir Oren, writing in Haaretz, says the UK has dealt a blow to what he calls "Israel's arrogance":

"A British agent using an Israeli passport to track down an IRA cell would not meet with much Israeli sympathy. The massive use of borrowed identities of citizens of a foreign country is no different, in principle, than a plane entering that country's air space without permission."

At Ynet News, the website of Israel's centrist newspaper Yedioth Ahraronot, Gerald Steinberg writes:

"The British action at this time constitutes a response to an act that caused it some embarrassment. Hence, the Mossad representative's expulsion marks a predictable diplomatic protest, in a bid to close the case without prompting an earthquake."

But in the right-leaning Jerusalem Post, an editorial pours scorn on the UK reaction and says Britain has "lost its moral compass":

"But even if it had 'compelling evidence' from an investigation by the Serious Organized Crime Agency into the cloning of up to 15 British passports, why has the UK government now decided to publicly humiliate Israel over the affair with so drastic a response?"

A news story in the Jerusalem Post reports how a National Union party member of the Kenesset Aryeh Eldad called Britain "dogs" for expelling the diplomat.

"Eldad's party colleague, MK Michael Ben-Ari, responded: 'The British may be dogs, but they are not loyal to us, but rather to an anti-Semitic system, and Israeli diplomacy partially plays into their hands. This is anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism'.

In the Hebrew language daily newspaper Yedioth Ahraronot Simon Schiffer says Israel should not get too worked up about the affair:

"The affair that embarrassed the kingdom so much ended with a reasonable price: the result was that the representative of the Mossad extension in London was asked to leave ... He who used forged British passports knew that it was possible he would have to pay a price. And the price the British set yesterday is a sale price."

Elsewhere in the same paper, investigative journalist and Israeli security expert Ronen Bergman questioned why Israel would want to alienate Britain, given their support over Iran's development of a nuclear programme:

"Between Jerusalem and London there is today a unity of interests that stems from the identical way in which the British view at least some of the central threats to the State of Israel when at the centre stands the Iranian nuke. He who listens to the way the British speak at closed forums about Iran will be very surprised by their intensity and sharpness. Was it worth it to lose all this for the liquidation of Mahmud al-Mabhouh?"

In the centrist Maariv newsapaper Maya Bengal writes that Israel was "stunned" into inaction by the decision:

"In similar situations, the country whose representative was expelled responds with the same coin, to expel a British diplomat... But this time it was decided in Jerusalem not to respond in accordance with the rules of the diplomatic game and to 'swallow the frog'."

Links in full

BBC NewsBBC | British press reaction to Isreali diplomat expulsion
HaaretzAmir Oren | Haaretz | Britain has dealt a blow to Israeli arrogance
Ynet NewsGerald Steinberg | Ynet News | Predictable British protest
Jerusalem PostJerusalem Post | British morality
Jerusalem PostJerusalem Post | Eldad, Ben-Ari: Britons are dogs

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