Before he has a chance to hang up his hat in his new office, the Mossad secret service's new head Tamir Pardo is faced with a ruse for inveigling him into admitting that Israel's hand in the murder of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in Dubai a year ago. Saturday, Dec. 25, the London Daily Telegraph tried claiming that, when Pardo visits London next month, he will apologize for the use of British passports in the killing and so make up for the lapses of his predecessor Meir Dagan. This would purportedly pave the way for the Mossad station chief, expelled over the Dubai episode, to be restored to London as part of Israel's "urgent drive to rebuild relations with the UK."
debkafile's intelligence sources dismiss this as a taradiddle dreamed up to put Israel in its place and possibly mask London's own pressing need for restored collaboration with Mossad. It will present Pardo with one of his first tests.
It is unheard of in relations between undercover agencies for one head to make it his first priority – even before taking office – to travel to a foreign capital and say "Sorry!" for the doings of his predecessor who is still on the job and promise never to do it again. The tale is further embroidered by Pardo's alleged claim that he warned Dagan that the "whole business will come home to haunt us."
Whatever Pardo's views on the episode, he will certainly not share it with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Home Secretary Theresa May – and certainly not at his first "briefings" with MI6 chief John Sawers, head of MI6, or Jonathan Evans, the MI5 director.
The Telegraph further "reports" Pardo as having served as deputy director of Mossad for the past three years, and "describes" him as having "argued against using British, Irish and Australian passports for the team sent to murder Mabhouh in his hotel room."
The fact is debkafile's sources report, Pardo has not served as deputy director for three years because during all that time, he was away, fully occupied outside the Mossad as a private businessman developing investments in Internet and other international Dot.Com ventures. He could not and did not take part in any conferences planning the Dubai killing – had they indeed taken place.
Yet with this tall tale, Telegraph's "sources" hoped to net the Cameron government – and especially William Hague – a bushel of benefits:
1. The Foreign Office would have finally "tamed" Mossad after many years of fruitless effort;
2. Extracting an admission from Mossad of responsibility for the Mabhouh killing in the form of a Pardo apology would gain points for the Cameron government in Washington. Those points might help rebuild the "special relationship" dented by US coolness toward the previous and present British governments. (Wikileaks cites the non-existent special relationship as a standing joke among US diplomats).
It would also be good for British trade with the Persian Gulf.
3. The Foreign Office and British Ambassador Matthew Gold would be able to put behind them the humiliation the foreign secretary suffered during his visit to Israel on Nov. 3, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prohibited senior Israelis from attending a dinner at the ambassador's residence. They were summoned to "brief" the Foreign Secretary on Israeli intelligence and its intentions on Iran. Among them were the Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor (who had just called off a London visit to avoid being arrested for "war crimes"), Meir Dagan, Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin and the head of the Israel atomic commission Shaul Horev.
London sought to bill that encounter as "strategic dialogue." It is trying to pull the same stunt by ambushing the incoming Mossad chief.
4. The Telegraph lays out Pardo's agenda of priorities as follows: Providing Britain and NATO with increased intelligence on Iran's nuclear weapons program, using its network of undercover agents in the country; increasing Mossad's role in Yemen and expanding its watch over the Russian SVR in Syria and Turkey in order to help the West "win the new Cold War."
Pardo must also brief the Brits on Israel's "deep cover agents" in Asia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iran and report the strength of China's cyber war ability to attack the West. In all these fields, British MI6 admits it cannot easily operate. Therefore, the Israeli Mossad chief must place all of Israel's top secrets at the feet of the MI6 chief at their first interview, says the Telegraph – a likely prospect indeed, but also a dead giveaway of London's motive in pushing so precipitately to "rebuild" relations.
And what is London offering in return? If Pardo plays along, the Mossad station chief whom London expelled over a dozen faked British passports, which Israel was never proved to have used, will be reinstated.
Judging from the above list of the UK's intelligence weaknesses, his absence from London was sadly missed by… his former hosts.
Once again, two months after William Hague failed to call the shots in Jerusalem, London is again trying to put Israel in its place. If the new Mossad chief refuses to play the game according to British rules, he will find its power centers icebound.