Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 14:16 UK

Israel yet to replace diplomat expelled in passport row

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed in his hotel room in Dubai on 19 January

Israel is yet to replace a diplomat expelled after forged British passports were used in the killing of a Hamas leader, it has emerged.

The Foreign Office said no request had been made to replace the official, but added that "specific assurances" would be sought from Israel if one was made.

The Israeli Embassy in London refused to comment on the situation.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed in Dubai in January, allegedly by Israeli agents using forged foreign passports.

It is believed the fake passports - 12 of them British - were used in the plot to murder Mr Mabhouh, the founder of Hamas's military wing, in his hotel room in Dubai on 19 January.

Dubai officials said they were "99% certain" that agents from Mossad, the Israeli secret service, were behind the killing.

We look to Israel to rebuild the trust we believe is required for the full and open relationship we would like
Foreign Office

The names and details on the UK passports used by eight of the 12 suspects belonged to British-Israeli citizens living in Israel - all of whom have denied involvement in Mr Mabhouh's murder.

Their passports had been copied and new photographs inserted.

During the ensuing diplomatic row, in March, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said there were "compelling reasons" to believe Israel was responsible for the forgeries.

He said the misuse of British passports was "intolerable".

Israel's ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, said he was "disappointed", but Israel confirmed there would be no tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsion.

Israel has previously said there is no proof it was behind the killing at a Dubai hotel.

The name of the expelled diplomat has not been released.

'Specific assurances'

Several newspapers have reported that the person expelled was a Mossad representative and claimed that UK authorities are now preventing Israel from replacing the individual until it agrees not to use British passports in the same way again.

The Foreign Office said: "We have had no approach from the Israelis about a replacement. However we look to Israel to rebuild the trust we believe is required for the full and open relationship we would like.

"We have asked for specific assurances from Israel, which would clearly be a positive step towards rebuilding that trust. Any Israeli request for the diplomat to be replaced would be considered against the context of these UK requests."

Dubai police said forensic tests showed Mabhouh was drugged with a quick-acting muscle relaxant and then suffocated.

Earlier reports had said he may have been strangled or killed by a massive electric shock.

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