Lieberman on Dubai assassination: Arabs always blame Israel
"The Arabs have a tendency to blame Israel for anything that happens in the Middle East" LiebermanThe Russian Jew who arrived on Arab Palestine forgot to invoke: anti-semitism and holocaust
Last update - 21:59 22/02/2010
By Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents
The Arabs nations blame Israel for anything that happens in the Middle East, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told his Irish counterpart during a meeting in Brussels on Monday, adding that there are many other power struggles in the region which could have resulted in the operation.
"The Arabs have a tendency to blame Israel for anything that happens in the Middle East," the Israeli FM said, adding that the region "has many internal struggles within groups and states which are not as democratic as Israel is."
Meanwhile on Monday, the U.K.'s Europe Minister Chris Bryant says a total of eight forged U.K. passports were used in the Dubai slaying of a top Hamas operative, two more than had been previously disclosed.
During the meeting between Lieberman and Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin, the Israeli FM was asked about the use of fraudulent Irish passports in the by the suspected assassins of Hamas strongman Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
Martin also reportedly questioned Lieberman about the fact that the Dubai police chief had stated he was "99 percent" sure that the Israeli Mossad was responsible for the operation.
Lieberman said that there wasn't "even one story indicating that Israel was implicated in the assassination. If anyone other than the Media would have claimed otherwise we would have addressed the issue, but as that there are no such allegations, there is no need to address it further."
The Israeli FM later met with British FM David Miliband, where he was also reportedly asked about the alleged use of fake U.K. passports in the January assassination in Dubai.
After the meeting, the British foreign secretary said that he told Lieberman that Israel needs to cooperate with the investigation launched by Dubai into the assassination of a Hamas official using forged European passports.
He said he underlined to Lieberman "the importance we attach to Israel cooperating with that investigation. It is very important that people know that we continue to take this issue very seriously indeed."
According to Miliband, the Israeli foreign minister replied saying "he had no information at this stage."
Both Miliband and Martin have made strong statements in recent days condemning the forging of passports and theft of identities.
Earlier Monday, European Union foreign ministers condemned the use of forged European passports by assassins who killed a Palestinian militant in Dubai, but made no direct reference to Israel.
Diplomatic sources said that the statement was intended to censure Israel over its alleged involvement in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last month - though other senior European sources said the statement would not formally link Israel with the assassination or the forging of passports.
Israel has declined to confirm or deny any involvement.
"The EU strongly condemns the fact that those involved in this action [assassination] used fraudulent EU member states' passports and credit cards acquired through the theft of EU citizens' identities," a declaration on behalf of EU foreign ministers said.
Another senior diplomat said EU ambassadors had been summoned for consultations by Foreign Ministry officials in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
During the meeting, Abu Dhabi officials requested that EU foreign ministers, who will convene in Brussels on Monday for a conference, issue a communique over the use of European passports in the Mabhouh operation. The UAE is also demanding an explicit EU statement supporting the Emirates' authorities who are investigating the case.
According to the European source, the UAE government did not blame Israel for carrying out the assassination nor did it request that Israel be cited in the EU statement.
The source added that senior officials from Germany, France, Britain, Ireland and the EU met Sunday to agree on the language of the statement. Ireland is advocating the hardest line among all EU members by demanding that the statement explicitly refer to Israel.
According to the European source, the communique will include three key elements: the EU's condemnation of the use of European passports by members of the assassination team, an expression of support for the UAE government and investigators in Dubai, and a commitment to investigate the passport forgeries and theft identities as quickly as possible.
Discussions over the wording of the statement are expected to continue until Monday evening, by when it is likely to be released.
Meanwhile, the commander of the Dubai police revealed additional details about the January 20 assassination.
The police official, Dahi Khalfan, said the police had information that would not be disclosed currently but which related to the use by some of the assassins of diplomatic passports to enter Dubai.
The Dubai police chief added that some of the hit squad had been in the emirate for at least a year before the killing and used the same passports. He made the remarks to Al-Bayan, a newspaper published in the UAE.
Khalfan said the information that led to the killing of Mabhouh came from an associate of a senior Hamas official, according to a statement published in another UAE newspaper, Al-Khaleej. Khalfan has been reported as saying the associate gave information about Mabhouh's arrival in Dubai.
Over the weekend, Hamas officials criticized Mabhouh's conduct. Hamas legislator Salah Bardawil said Mabhouh endangered himself by ordering airline tickets over the Internet and said the senior Hamas official even notified Mabhouh's family about where in Dubai Mabhouh was staying. Mabhouh's brother, however, denied that the family had received such information. For their part, Hamas spokesmen denied the Dubai police chief's account.
One spokesman, Sami Abu Zahari, denied there was an informant in Hamas. Another senior Hamas official criticized the Dubai authorities for failing to sufficiently involve the group in their investigation.
Moreover, Arab media reported yesterday that the UAE has asked Egypt to officially lodge a protest with Israel over the assassination as well as the alleged participation of two Palestinians who were arrested in connection with the hit.
Abu Dhabi's national security adviser met over the weekend with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. UAE officials said the arrested Palestinians were former members of the Palestinian Authority security apparatus