AUSTRALIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS STEPHEN SMITH: excerpts from speech to House of Representatives re Israel’s frauduent use of Australian passports 24May10 May 24, 2010

The  following are excerpts from Mr Stephen Smith, Australian Minister for Foreign  Affairs, statement to the parliament yesterday on the Israeli  government’s counterfeiting,  cloning and use of Australian passports in the assassination of a senior  Hamas figure Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai,  UAE.

HOUSE  OF REPRESENTATIVES Monday,  24 May 2010

MINISTERIAL  STATEMENTS

National  Security

Mr ¬†STEPHEN SMITH (Perth‚ÄĒMinister ¬†for Foreign Affairs) (12.01 pm)‚ÄĒOn 25 February, I advised the House of the ¬†suspected fraudulent use of a number of Australian passports in connection ¬†with the murder of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh. I now advise the ¬†House of the government‚Äôs response to this matter….

This  advice leads to the following key conclusions. Firstly, and very importantly,  there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that those Australian passport  holders identified by Dubai  authorities were anything other than innocent victims of identity fraud;  secondly, the passports in question were deliberately counterfeited and cloned  for use. The high quality of these counterfeited passports points to the  involvement of a state intelligence service. Thirdly, these investigations and  advice have left the government in no doubt that  Israel  was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports. I note  that a similar conclusion was reached by the  United  Kingdom  government in the course of their official  investigations.

No  government can tolerate the abuse of its passports, especially by a foreign  government. This represents a clear affront to the security of our passport  system. Nor can we tolerate the abuse by a foreign government of the personal  details of the Australian nationals concerned. These are not the actions of a  friend. I regret to advise the House that this is not the first occasion that  Australian passports have been misused by Israeli authorities. The  Dubai  passports incident also constitutes a clear and direct breach of confidential  understandings between Australia  and Israel  dating back some years. This is not what we expect from a nation with whom we  have had such a close, friendly and supportive relationship.

After  careful deliberation, the government has asked that a member of the Israeli  Embassy in Canberra  be withdrawn from Australia.  I have asked that the withdrawal be effected within the week…. The department  conveyed the government’s deep disappointment over Israeli involvement in this  affair. The department made it clear that  Australia  regarded the abuse of these passports as inconsistent with the friendship and  support provided by successive Australian governments to  Israel  since its creation as a nation. Australia’s  relationship with Israel  has always been founded on a basis of mutual respect and trust. But  Israel’s  actions in this regard have undermined that respect and  trust.

The  government takes this step much more in sorrow than in anger or retaliation.  It is a decision taken in our national security interests. The government has  done so in accordance with the findings of the investigation and after a  careful assessment of Australia’s  national interests by relevant agencies….

I  convey publicly a final point made to the Israeli Charge d’Affaires by the  Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Insofar as the Australia-Israel  bilateral

relationship  is concerned, our expectation is that our relationship with  Israel  can and will continue in a mutually productive and beneficial manner.  Australia’s  support for the State of Israel goes back to its creation.  Australia’s  support for the State of Israel has long enjoyed bipartisan support. We have  always shared a relationship reflecting our joint commitment to freedom,  security and democracy. Australia  remains a firm friend of Israel.  But, as I noted previously, our relationship must be conducted on the basis of  mutual trust and respect. Genuine friendship runs both ways. We expect this  government and future Israeli governments to ensure that this incident is not  repeated. We now look forward to working to restore the highest standards of  trust in our relationship with Israel.  I thank the House.


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