`Israel behind faking Oz passports in Dubai hit`

Australia`s government has ordered the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat.

Last Updated: May 24, 2010, 11:37 AM IST

Canberra: Australia`s government said on Monday it had ordered the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat over the use of fake passports in the assassination of a top Hamas militant in Dubai in January.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said a police investigation had left no doubt Israeli intelligence services had been behind the forgery of four Australian passports used by suspects in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room.

"These investigations and advice have left the government in no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports," Smith told Australia`s Parliament. "These are not the actions of a friend."

The Australian government ordered an inquiry into the fake passports by police and intelligence services, who visited Israel and found the four citizens involved had been innocent of any wrongdoing.

"No government can tolerate the abuse of its passports, especially by a foreign government," Smith said. "This is not what we expect from a nation with whom we have had such a close, friendly and supportive relationship."

He said the government had asked that a member of Israel`s Australian embassy in Canberra be withdrawn within a week.

Dubai authorities have given names of alleged members of the team that tracked and killed the Palestinian, and said they used fraudulent British, Irish, French, German and Australian passports to enter and leave Dubai.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in February there was no evidence to link his country to the killing, which also prompted Britain to expel an Israeli in March.

Bureau Report