Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has announced at a Cabinet meeting that a member of the Israeli Embassy in Dublin is to be expelled from the country.
His announcement comes after the investigations, carried out the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Passport Service and by An Garda Síochána (the Irish police), in to the misuse and manufacturing of forged passports.
Eight Irish passports were used by those responsible for the murder of Hamas leader, Mahmoud al Mabhouh, in Dubai in January 19.
Four forged Australian and 12 forged British passports were also used during the assassination. Both countries also expelled Israeli officials having concluded that Mossad were responsible for the murder and its organization.
In Mr Martin’s statement he said that the investigation carried out by the police and the Passport Office came to similar findings.
He said “the level of sophistication required in the manufacture of these forged passports clearly points to the involvement of a foreign state agency or a very well resourced criminal organization with access to details of significant numbers of Irish passports.”
Mr Martin said the focus of the investigation was always to ensure the security of the innocent Irish citizens affected. He said “Garda investigating team have met with all of the citizens…All the citizens concerned have been issued with new passports free of charge.
“This will, I am satisfied, enable these citizens to travel free from any suspicion relating the misuse of a forged passport carrying the same number as their own legitimate passport.”
The Minister said that the Irish investigations had come to the same conclusion as the British and Australian inquirys, that Israel was involved in the forgeries. However, efforts to enlist Israels help in investigations fell on deaf ears.
He said “I had a meeting on this subject with Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman last March at which I asked that he provide me with any information which he felt might help the Government in its investigation….I have to report that efforts to enlist the assistance of the Israeli authorities in the investigation of this case have yielded no response and no denial of Israeli involvement.”
He concluded that in “accordance with normal diplomatic practice” Israel has been requested to withdraw a designated member of staff from its Embassy in Dublin.
“The misuse of Irish passports by a State with, with which Ireland enjoys friendly, if sometimes frank, bilateral relations is clearly unacceptable and requires a firm response,” he said.
“I very much want Ireland and Israel to enjoy productive bilateral relations. Even more, I want to see Israeli’s living in peace and prosperity in a State recognized by its neighbors.
“However, the Government and the vast majority of the Irish people disagree with certain policies pursued by the Israeli Government, particularly in its relations with the occupied Palestinian territories, and I will not hesitate to express criticism of such policies where I believe this is warranted and where the policies in question, such as the current blockade of Gaza, are inimical to the achievement of a viable two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a comprehensive overall settlement in the Middle East. “