The Foreign Offfice also took the unusal step to issue a travel advisory to citizens traveling to Israel and the Palestinian territories in which it warned not to hand over passports to third parties. Citing 'circumstantial evidence of Israeli involvement in the fraudulent use of British passports,' the Foreign Office warned on its Web site of the 'possibility that your passport details could be captured for improper uses while your passport is out of your control.' The risk applies in particular to passports without biometric security features, the warning on the Web site said.'We recommend that you only hand your passport over to third parties including Israeli officials when absolutely necessary.'
Foreign secretary David Miliband (picture) said there were 'compelling reasons' to believe Israel was responsible for the forgeries. He called the misuse of British passports 'intolerable.' Israel's ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, said he was 'disappointed', but Israel confirmed there would be no tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsion.Mr Prosor said: 'The relationship between Israel and the UK is of mutual importance, hence we are disappointed by the... decision.'
The foreign secretary said officers from Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) had investigated the matter of the passports. It had concluded the passports used were copied from genuine British passports when handed over for inspection to individuals linked to Israel, either in Israel or in other countries, he said.
'Given that this was a very sophisticated operation, in which high-quality forgeries were made, the government judges it is highly likely that the forgeries were made by a state intelligence service,' he said.'We have concluded that there are compelling reasons to believe Israel was responsible for the misuse of the British passports.'The incident 'represents a profound disregard for the sovereignty of the United Kingdom' he said.
He added that the fact that Israel was a friend added 'insult to injury'.
Expelling a diplomat is a very severe measure in diplomatic terms. It means that Britain is taking the matter very seriously. Miliband on Monday also handed a letter to the Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman in Brussels, in which he demanded assurances from Israel that it in the future will refrain from using this kind of methods.
At least 12 forged Bristish passport were used in the killing of Hamas-leader Mabhouh together with forgeries of Australian, French and German passports. All in all Dubai singled out 27 idiviuals who had taken part in the murder of Mbhouh. Their identities had been stolen from Israeli's who had immigrated from the countries in question.
Update: The ultra rightist member of Knesset Aryeh Eldad (National Union) gave this comment on the British measure to Sky News: 'I think [the] British are behaving hypocritically and I don't want to offend dogs on this issue, since some dogs are utterly loyal, Who are they to judge us on the war on terror?' He added that Israel's 'natural reaction should be to expel one of the senior diplomats in the British Embassy, maybe the military attache or someone on his level.'
Eldad's party colleague, MK Michael Ben-Ari, also compared the British to dogs and what h said was no less looney. 'The British may be dogs, but they are not loyal to us, but rather to an anti-Semitic system, and Israeli diplomacy partially plays into their hands. This is anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism.'