26th Sep 2022

Ireland kicks out Israeli diplomat over EU passport row

Ireland has kicked out an Israeli diplomat over the fraudulent use of the country's passports by a hit-squad that assassinated Hamas commander Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai in January, an act Dublin today described as "terrorist."

Employing language as sharp as diplomacy between friendly nations allows, foreign minister Micheal Martin said upon the conclusion of Dublin's enquiry into the affair that investigators had found Israel to be responsible and condemned the murder of the Palestinian militant.

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  • EU passport control: the Irish criticism in its severity goes far beyond the EU statement on the Dubai killing (Photo: mpd01605)

"The balance of evidence uncovered in both [Passport Office and Garda - the Irish police] investigations as well as the level of sophistication required in the manufacture of these forged passports clearly points to the involvement of a foreign state agency or a very well resourced criminal organisation with access to details of significant numbers of Irish passports," Mr Martin said on Tuesday (15 June) in a statement.

He said that while Irish investigations had found no explicit Israeli link in addition to those found by British and Australian investigations, the fact that the forged Irish passports were used by members of the same group who carried the forged British and Australian passports "leads us to the inescapable conclusion that an Israeli government agency was responsible for the misuse and, most likely, the manufacture of the forged Irish passports associated with the murder of Mr Mabhouh."

The investigation found that eight Irish passports had been used by the individuals suspected of killing the Palestinian man and all were forgeries. While in the UK and Australian cases, the agents stole the identities of nationals, the agents in this case employed a different method, replicating valid Irish passport information, with six of the eight passports using the numbers of existing passport holders and the remaining two using numbers matching the Irish passport format.

Mr Martin did not make further details of the investigation public so as to not give any tips to other would-be forgers.

The minister expressed his frustration at the refusal of the Jewish state to co-operate with Dublin's investigations.

"I have to report that efforts to enlist the assistance of the Israeli authorities in the investigation of this case have yielded no response and no denial of Israeli involvement," he said.

In protest at what the minister called "unnacceptable actions" the government has expelled an unnamed Israeli diplomat.

It also took the opportunity to criticise Israel's policy of extra-judicial killings, something the EU has been unable to do "because then we'd be criticising, well, what some of our own states get up to," a European official told EUobserver.

Mr Martin went so far as to describe the suspected acts of Israeli agents as "terrorist."

"The Irish government does not believe that states should fight terror with terror," he said. "As a matter of principle, Ireland opposes extra-judicial killings. We believe that states have a duty to operate according to the law and to respect that way of life that terrorists seek to destroy."

Mr Martin stressed that he wished both Ireland and Israel to "enjoy productive bilateral relations."

"However, the government and the vast majority of the Irish people disagree with certain policies pursued by the Israeli government, particularly in its relations with the occupied Palestinian territories, and I will not hesitate to express criticism of such policies."

"The conduct of the Israeli authorities ... are profoundly disturbing and ... seriously detrimental to the kind of relationship we would like to have with Israel."

The minister said however that one expulsion was enough and rejected calls to close the Irish mission to Israel.

In March, the UK expelled an Israeli diplomat over the passport row, which involved the fraudulent use of EU passports from Ireland, Britain, France and Germany as well as from Australia.

Polish extradition

Separately on Tuesday, Polish prosecutors said that Warsaw will probably back a German request for the extradition of Uri Brodsky, an Israeli man facing charges of espionage and forgery and thought to be involved in the Dubai assassination.

"The prosecutor's office will ask the Warsaw court to order the handover to Germany," Monika Lewandowska, a spokeswoman for the prosecution office, told the PAP news service.

The court is expected to rule within a month on the extradition.

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