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      Despite War on Terror, Australia Expels Israeli Diplomat

      Australia expels Israeli diplomat, protesting four cloned passports used to fight terrorism. Israel supporters complain of double standard.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 5/25/2010, 11:18 AM / Last Update: 5/25/2010, 11:29 AM

      Despite warm Australian-Israeli relations, the "Down Under" country has expelled an Israeli diplomat in protest of four cloned Australian passports used in the assassination of a Hamas agent in Dubai in January. Israel supporters complain of a double standard.

      “Investigations and advice have left the Government in no doubt Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports,” Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said. However, he all but acknowledged publicly that he has no proof of this accusation when he added, “The high quality of these counterfeited passports points to the involvement of a state intelligence service.”

      Two months ago, Britain took a similar move, expelling an Israeli diplomat for the first time in ten years.

      Leading Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, responsible for smuggling weapons from Iran to Gaza, died in a Dubai hotel this past January. It was first believed that he had died of natural causes, and only later was it found that he had been murdered. Analysts say that the presence of surveillance cameras throughout the hotel was not taken sufficiently into account by the murderers. Israel has not accepted responsibility for the assassination.

      It is believed that the killers also used forged French, German and Irish passports to enter Dubai. These three countries have not yet announced whether they intend to follow the British and Australian leads and expel Israeli diplomats.

      Minister Smith said Israel’s alleged forgery endangered “confidential undertakings” with Australia, and “these are not the actions of a friend. This is not what we expect from a nation with whom we have had such a close, friendly and supportive relationship.”

      Israel appears to be diplomatically restricted in its response, but supporters of Israel have asked the following questions: “Will England and Australia give up their forged international passports that are used for intelligence work? Or is it only Israel that is not allowed to do what every other nation does? Are we [Western countries] trying to send the message that terrorists are untouchable and are under our protection? … Talk about hypocrisy: We are in Afghanistan, we have killed thousands going after a terrorist who struck us, and yet we condemn Israel for the possible killing of one known terrorist?”