France mulls following UK punishment for Israel over Dubai passports

debkafile's sources quote a senior French official as disclosing that President Nicolas Sarkozy is will decide in the coming hours whether to follow in Britain's footsteps in punishing Israel for suspicions that its security service forged the French passports used by the assassins of Hamas arms trader Mahmoud Mabhouh in

British foreign secretary David Miliband told parliament earlier Tuesday, March 23, that an Israeli diplomat in London had been expelled over "compelling evidence" – not proof – that British passports had been cloned by Israel's secret service. Ambassador Don Prosor was earlier summoned to the foreign office.

Sarkozy is considering declaring a Paris-based Israeli diplomat associated with intelligence persona non grata.
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Washington and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem only discovered Tuesday night that the UK had coordinated its decision to an expel a diplomat with the five other governments – France, Ireland, Germany, Sweden and Australia – whose passports were forged in connection with the Dubai killing and that a diplomatic avalanche was in the offing.
Although London admits it cannot prove Israel's culpability in the Dubai affair – or even which security arm forged the passports – investigative assistance was offered these five governments.

In an earlier report Tuesday, debkafile's intelligence sources noted: Fixing the blame on Israel is a deliberately unfriendly British act in keeping with its overall biased Middle East policies. The accusation is worded typically as an implication rather than a statement and therefore, puts Israel in the dock by suggestion.
According to our sources, the cloning of the passports could have taken place in any airport in the world by any other unnamed "security service."
Furthermore, the British consulate in Jerusalem is staffed entirely by Palestinians who could easily have got hold of the passports held by Britons or dual citizens in Israel and used them for their own purposes.
Prime minister Brown poses as a great friend of Israel. Yet his government chose to publish embarrassing insinuations against Israel on the very day its prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, was on his way to the White House for a pretty important meeting with US president Barack Obama, and at a time when Israel had its hands full fending off international pressure on construction in Jerusalem.
It should be noted in this regard that in the UK, any private individual can decide a foreign visitor is a war criminal and file an arrest warrant against him or her in a British court. No foreign nationals have ever been targeted for this quirky British custom except Israelis.  For this reason, Israel's opposition leader Tzipi Livni cancelled a visit to London, as have a number of top Israeli officers after receiving warnings they faced summary arrest at Heathrow airport.
Brown and Miliband have repeatedly promised to amend the law which seriously embitters ties which British politicians persists in calling friendly. However, in January, minister of justice Jack Straw stepped in to postpone the requisite legislation indefinitely. Neither the prime minister nor foreign secretary demurred.

debkafile's diplomatic sources expect the Israeli government to make appropriate response to the UK's diplomatic harassment and go beyond an expression of regret to a tit-for-tat declaration of a British diplomat posted in Tel Aviv persona not grata.  

 

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