Video: U.K. expels Israeli diplomat

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    >>> welcome back to msnbc. president obama meets later this afternoon with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu who met this morning with leading democrats and republicans on capitol hill . the meeting with the president follows nearly two weeks of tensions after netanyahu announced plans for a settlement on disputed land in east jerusalem . the move threatening to derail plans for new mideast peace talks. netanyahu met with secretary of state hillary clinton yesterday, then later in the day said in a speech, quote, jerusalem is not a settlement. it's our capital. the israeli -- israel is at the center of a dispute in brenten today. it all traces back to the january assassination of a hamas agent in dubai . britain says there are compelling reasons to believe that israel was responsible for the use of 12 forged british passports in connection with the killing. but he did not implicate israel in the assassination itself. nbc's donna friesen is in london with more.

    >> ed, britain 's foreign secretary called the cloning of british passports intolerable, and he's expelled an israeli diplomat believed to be a member of the israeli secret service as punishment. david milleband says an investigation concluded there are compelling reasons to responsible for the misuse of a dozen british passports . they were cloned, he said, without the knowledge of either the british government or their legitimate owners who mileband calls innocent victims. they were used by a suspected hit squad who flew to dubai . cctv footage shows them checking into this dubai hotel. it's the same hotel where a hamas commander was assassinated back in january. interpol has issued arrest warrants for 27 people suspected of involvement in that murder. and apart from the 12 cloned british passports , the assassins were traveling on forged documents from france, ireland and australia. now, israel 's secret service has been widely accused of carrying out the killing. israel , though, has always denied any involvement. milleband said the fact israel is a friend of the uk and yet stole the identity of british citizens only adds insult to injury. britain coming out and pointing the finger like this at israel , it's really serious stuff, expelling a diplomat is, too. israel 's prime minister, benjamin netanyahu , is in the midst of a trip to washington . he's under serious pressure to get back to peace talks with the palestinia palestinians , to sell v plans to build more settlement housing in occupied east jerusalem . this issue, of course, is completely separate from all of that. but it does put more pressure on israel . netanyahu himself didn't comment today. israel 's foreign minister only said that it regretted britain 's move. other israeli politicians, though, are angry. one suggesting britain is being anti-se mettic. another saying it's hypocrite cal of britain that in fighting a war on terror these things sometimes have to happen. it is a low point for british/israeli relations. expelling a diplomat is a slap in the face . it's not something undertaken lightly. britain 's foreign secretary said what israel did is so serious no country could stand by and do nothing in response.

    >> donna friesen reporting from london . thanks so much. that wraps

updated 3/24/2010 7:22:26 AM ET 2010-03-24T11:22:26

Israel may soon replace a diplomat Britain has said it will expel over the use of forged British passports by suspected killers of a Hamas commander in Dubai, Israeli media reported Wednesday.

Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's most widely read news daily, said the diplomat being sent home was actually a Mossad intelligence agent and that he would fly back to Israel after the Passover holiday early next month.

Israel could replace the agent with another as ties between the two countries have not been seriously harmed, the newspaper said. Army Radio carried a similar report.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband told parliament on Tuesday he had asked a member of Israel's embassy "be withdrawn."

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied a role in the January killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a military commander from the Palestinian organization Hamas, in a Dubai hotel room.

Dubai's police chief has said he is almost certain Israeli agents were involved and has accused the intelligence agency Mossad of insulting Dubai.

Authorities in the Gulf emirate have given names for 27 alleged members of a team that killed the Palestinian, and said they used fraudulent British, Irish, French, German and Australian passports to enter and leave Dubai.

Miliband said there were "compelling reasons" to believe Israel was responsible for forging the 12 British passports used and said he had sought assurances from Israel that it would not do so again.

Israel said it regretted Britain's decision but commentators Wednesday thought the incident would do no meaningful damage to bilateral ties.

"We attribute great importance to relations with Britain," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement on Tuesday. "We have received no evidence pointing to Israeli involvement in the matter (Mabhouh's assassination)," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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