Israel responds to British expulsion of diplomat over Hamas killing
Palestine-Israel-UK, Politics, 3/25/2010
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said two days ago that "Israel has not received any proof pointing to Israeli involvement in the matter and regrets the British decision" to expel Israeli diplomats who are accused of being involved in the murder of a Hamas official in the United Arab Emirates using forget British passports.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman said "Israel places great importance on its relations with the UK and conducts numerous and sensitive dialogues with the UK."
The British Foreign Secretary David Miliband stated two days ago that there is "compelling evidence" linking Israeli authorities to the "intolerable" abuse of British passports in connection to the assassination of a senior Hamas leader in a Dubai hotel this January.
Miliband said "I think that my statement today spoke about a particular incident about which we have very, very serious concerns. And that has led to some serious actions by the British Government in defense of British sovereignty and British interests.
He added " I donít agree with you that relations between Britain and Israel are quote unquote very bad. We have relations that are political, diplomatic, economic, cultural and personal. And across that range Britain tries to work closely with Israel, in many areas does work closely with Israel. However, on this issue we have parted company because of the very serious nature of it. But I believe that Britain will continue to work to ensure that Israel understands the strength of our concerns on a range of issues and I think thatís the right thing to do.
He added " We believe as part of the package that I announced today, including the change to the travel advice and also the letter that I delivered personally to the Israeli Foreign Minister, seeking assurance that Israel would never be party to such an activity in the future, represent the right steps in this case.
NO: Have you had anything approaching an apology from Israel at any level from the Foreign Minister himself for example over this incident?
He added "The (Israeli) Foreign Minister explained to me that in the Israeli system the Foreign Ministry does not, is not answerable, or is not accountable for their external intelligence and the way that it is in the UK system. However, he said that he understood the seriousness of the concerns that I was registering with him.
He said "It is an unusual event, but frankly so is the taking of twelve British identities and using them in this way. These are twelve ordinary citizens, theyíre dual British Israeli nationals. They woke up one morning to find themselves on the front page of every newspaper around the world as alleged terrorists and that is a very serious state of affairs and I think itís right that we have responded after careful consideration without rushing to judgement, weíve conducted an investigation through the Serious Organised Crime Agency. I think thatís the right thing to do, but Israel does need to understand not just the seriousness with which we view this, but our determination that it shouldnít happen in the future."
Asked if other countries are involved "Might Israel find itself having diplomats expelled from other Embassies?"
He replied "I think itís fair to say that twelve British national involve, nationals involved in this put us in a unique category. However, Iíve been in touch with the four or five, half a dozen other countries that are involved. Their investigations are continuing. We have to wait and see how they conclude."
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