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NZ MP sees Mossad in Dubai hit -

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NZ MP sees Mossad in Dubai hit

Meredith Griffiths reported this story on Friday, February 26, 2010 12:20:00

SHANE MCLEOD: As the intrigue continues over the assassination in Dubai of a Hamas operative the
Israeli Government says there is absolutely no evidence it sanctioned the use of Australian
passports by the alleged assassins.

Three Australians with dual citizenship have been named as suspects in the investigation but the
Federal Government believes they have been the victims of identity theft.

A former New Zealand foreign minister says the denials are just Mossad's style. But other observers
are wondering why the spy agency would put so many Israeli citizens at risk.

Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFTHS: It's a diplomatic crisis that's been going on for more than 24 hours.

The Foreign Minister Stephen Smith summoned Israel's ambassador to a meeting yesterday but won't
say if he asked directly if Israel was involved in last month's assassination in Dubai.

An Israeli Foreign Affairs spokesman Yigal Palmor has told Newsradio that no government has
officially accused his country of any involvement.

YIGAL PALMOR: Since there is no evidence of that nature and since the Dubai police has so far not
presented any ultimate evidence we don't think that we should respond to anything. We are not
accused, we are not connected to what happened.

MEREDITH GRIFFTHS: But a New Zealand MP Phil Goff says the links are there.

PHIL GOFF: It is I think very clear that this is part of the modus operandi of Mossad, that they
gain their passports in this way.

MEREDITH GRIFFTHS: Mr Goff was the foreign minister in 2004 when one of New Zealand's immigration
officials noticed a passport applicant was speaking with a North American accent.

The police were notified and eventually a complex plot was uncovered where Israeli citizens were
trying to steal the identity of a man with severe physical disabilities.

Phil Goff says it was clear from the circumstances that the plot was linked to an agency of the
state of Israel.

PHIL GOFF: When the police apprehended two of the three culprits that came from Israel to get the
passports there was an indirect contact from the Israeli Government wanting to hush the matter up.

We of course were not prepared to do that as a Labor government in New Zealand. We told them in no
uncertain terms that people that came to our country, committed criminal acts against our law would
be treated openly and before the courts in the same way as anybody else.

Indeed that is what happened to the two agents.

MEREDITH GRIFFTHS: New Zealand said that was not the sort of behaviour it expected from a
supposedly friendly country and suspended diplomatic relations until Israel said sorry.

PHIL GOFF: They made the apology for the acts committed by quote unquote Israeli citizens. But
apparently this was scarcely a genuine apology because having found New Zealand too tough a target
they then turned their attention elsewhere and used the passports of other nationals.

MEREDITH GRIFFTHS: Even before then Israel got into similar trouble.

In 1997 when two Mossad agents bungled the attempt to kill Hamas leader Sheikh Khalid Mohammed in
Jordan they were found to be carrying fake Canadian passports.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied any involvement in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in
Dubai last month.

But some observers are sceptical about the story being put forward by Dubai police. The Israeli
newspaper Haaretz says parts of the alleged plot don't ring true.

YOSSI MELMAN: You'd have to be really great believer in the futility and the stupidity of the
Mossad in order to accept the allegations at the moment.

Yossi Melman is the newspaper's intelligence and military affairs correspondent. He's told Lateline
he can't believe so many people would have been involved and he's questioned the alleged escape
route.

YOSSI MELMAN: I don't think the Mossad would order its people to get out of Dubai by boat to Iran
and carrying Australian passports.

Australian passports are not very welcome in Iran. The Irani's state police they suspect Western
nationalities - Americans, British and also Australians. I mean I would have imagined that maybe as
a rescue route they would go to Iran as a last resort with I don't know Ukrainian passports,
Russian passports.

Mr Melman says it's not Mossad's style to use the identities of Israelis because it needs the
publics' trust in order to operate.

The Haaretz newspaper has speculated that Dubai could be putting out misinformation to try to spark
some kind of response from Israel.

SHANE MCLEOD: Meredith Griffiths reporting.