Thursday, February 18, 2010

UK calls in Israeli ambassador as Dubai killing row escalates.

One diplomat is reported as saying, "Relations were in the freezer before this. They are in the deep freeze now," as the UK called in the Israeli ambassador to explain why some of the assassins who killed a Hamas official in Dubai were carrying British passports.

Of course, officially, Israel are not admitting that this was a Mossad operation, but it bears all of their hallmarks.

The Israeli ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office to "share information" about the assassins' use of identities stolen from six British citizens living in Israel, as part of the meticulously orchestrated assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Britain has stopped short of accusing Israel of involvement, but to signal its displeasure, the Foreign Office ignored an Israeli plea to keep the summons secret.

Gordon Brown yesterday launched an investigation into the use of the fake passports, which will be led by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca). The British embassy in Tel Aviv is also contacting the British nationals affected in the plot, "and stands ready to provide them with the support that they need", the Foreign Office said in a statement last night.

"The British passport is an important part of being British and we have to make sure everything is done to protect it," Brown told LBC Radio yesterday.

Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, insisted there was no proof that the Mossad was involved in Mabhouh's killing in a Dubai hotel last month, but added that Israel had a "policy of ambiguity" on intelligence matters.

I am uncomfortable with targeted assassinations, although I understand that they may sometimes be necessary in times of war. But, on the whole, they make me uncomfortable.

The whole notion of law and order is suspended when one sends out assassins to act as judge, jury and executioner and kill people in cold blood. In this case there is even the suggestion that Mabhouh was tortured before he was killed.

We all know that this kind of thing goes on, but it takes us very far from being a world where we are governed by laws.

And the British government are hardly in a position to hold the Israelis to account if Mossad were responsible for this targeted killing, as our behaviour in the case of Binyam Mohamed puts us way outside of international law.

But, ever since 9-11, there has been a marked increase in this kind of "anything goes" approach to international law.

We are all on a slippery slope, as Gordon Brown will find as he puts on his most serious face to condemn Israel for practices no worse than anything which we ourselves have engaged in. Perhaps Gordon will condemn the Israelis for the killing and take comfort from the fact that, when we kill people, it's only in the case where our torturing of them has somehow gone wrong.

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