Europeans press Israel over Hamas killing row

LONDON: Britain today called for full Israeli cooperation in a probe into the use of fake passports by killers of a Hamas chief, as Dubai’s police chief said he was sure Mossad was behind the assassination.

Ireland and France also pressed the Jewish state over the killing blamed on its spy agency, as diplomatic tension mounted with Israel’s ambassadors called in for talks in London and Dublin.

“We hope and expect that they will cooperate fully with the investigation,” said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, referring to a probe launched with Dubai authorities after the death of Hamas commander Mahmud al-Mabhuh. “We want to get to the bottom of the issue of the fraudulent passports, or their potential use,” Miliband added, after Israeli envoy Ron Prosor held talks with Peter Ricketts, the head of Britain’s diplomatic service.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin also announced “frank” talks with Israel’s envoy — diplomatic code for potentially angry exchanges — saying he regarded the use of false Irish passports as “an extremely serious incident”.

“We are putting pretty direct questions and seeking assistance and clarification. We want to get answers as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.

“You can decode what I am saying. It is a very serious situation,” Martin added, shortly before the talks between Israeli ambassador Zion Evrony and the top civil servant in Ireland’s foreign ministry.

In France, a foreign ministry spokesman said Paris is “demanding explanations” from the Israeli embassy for the use of a false French passport.

Diplomatic tensions have mounted over al-Mabhuh’s killing after Dubai’s police chief revealed that 11 European passport holders — six British, three Irish, one French and one German — were allegedly involved. No government has directly accused Israel but speculation about the killers has centred on Israel’s Mossad intelligence services, which have used agents with fake passports for such operations in the past.

Dubai police chief Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim said he was 99 percent sure Mossad was behind the murder, The National newspaper reported.

“Our investigations reveal that Mossad is involved in the murder of Mabhuh. It is 99 percent, if not 100 percent that Mossad is standing behind the murder,” the Abu Dhabi-based English-language daily quoted Khalfan as saying.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said yesterday there was no evidence to suggest the Jewish state’s spies were responsible.

“There is no reason to think that it was the Israeli Mossad and not some other intelligence service or country up to some mischief,” he said.