After Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat after it determined the Jewish state had forged British passports used in the Dubai assassination of a Hamas leader, Israelis reacted with criticism, but also relief that the damage wasn't more severe.
Tel Aviv, Israel
The decision by Britain to expel an Israeli diplomat after it found what it called "compelling" reasons to believe Israel had forged 12 British passports used in the Dubai assassination of a senior Hamas operative was received on Wednesday by Israelis with a mixture of criticism and relief as they assessed the damage to one of the country's most important diplomatic relationships.
On Tuesday, Britain became the first state to publicly bolster claims made by the Dubai police that Israel arranged the January murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. The UK findings, and warning to travelers to Israel that their passports could be forged, marks a strain in relations.
The charges and expulsion were announced as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking to patch up ties with the US at a White House meeting with President Obama and contributed to a growing sense here that Israel's diplomatic position has steadily deteriorated over the last year.
In an article entitled "Hypocritical Protest," political columnist Dan Margalit wrote in the daily Yisrael Hayom that the British response was overdone. "This was an assassination that was not done on British soil but rather in Dubai," he wrote. "Her Majesty’s government cannot say with certainty who assassinated the terrorist. The Mossad? The IDF? It has no smoking gun, but it fingers Israel as being responsible for the incident."
Other columnists noted that the British punishment could have been more severe.