‘No guarantee’ over fake Irish passports being used by Israeli secret service again

Israel’s ambassador to Ireland has said he “cannot guarantee” that Irish passports will not be used by the Israeli secret service again, after their previous use in the assassination of a Palestinian militant.

‘No guarantee’ over fake Irish passports being used by Israeli secret service again

Ambassador Zeev Boker says lessons can be learnt from the Irish peace process, however, and that Tel Aviv may be ready to enter direct talks with Hamas, the militant Palestinian rulers of the Gaza Strip.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Boker warned Enda Kenny’s Government about doing business with Iran, amid suggestions that an Irish embassy may be reopened there.

In his first major interview since being assigned here a year ago, he says the post is “very challenging” but he is enthusiastic about strengthening links between Ireland and Israel.

There was outrage in 2010 when it emerged that Mossad agents carrying fake Irish passports had assassinated Palestinian commander Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel.

An Israeli embassy official was expelled after it emerged that six forged passports were used, some with real numbers.

Ministers at the time said the incident had put the security of Irish citizens “at risk”.

“It was addressed at this time at the highest level,” ambassador Boker said, adding that it happened many years ago.

However, when asked if, as Israel’s ambassador here, he could guarantee this would not be repeated, he said: “From my point of view, you can fully trust [us].

“We cannot guarantee about everything. What has been discussed in the past has been discussed.” When pressed again, he replied: “I cannot guarantee. I’m a diplomat. I work in the foreign ministry.”

Mr Boker spoke about the Middle East peace process and said he believes Israel could meet directly with Hamas, the militant rulers of the Gaza Strip, in a similar way to how the Irish and British governments talked with the IRA.

“We are not in principle against negotiation with Hamas, together with Palestinians,” he said.

“I think they have to first understand, to be a reliable partner, they cannot call for the destruction of the state of Israel, continue shelling rockets in Israel, using terrorising [sic] against Israel.”

The ambassador agreed that there may be elements of the Irish peace process that could work in the Middle East.

“No conflict is fully identifiable with another conflict. But we are not closing our eyes.

“I believe we can learn from the way the Irish [negotiated] to find or solve [the conflict].”

There are common themes in both conflicts, including disagreement over land and religion. Maybe this is what brought former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to meet Israelis and Palestinians in April last year.

“We are ready to listen,” stressed ambassador Boker.

Amid suggestions that Ireland may reopen its embassy in Iran, Mr Boker gave a stern warning to the Government about pursuing business interests while ignoring Tehran’s alleged terrorism links.

“We see the more you’re talking to in Iran. Please make clear to the Iranians that you have red lines.”

Analysis: 11

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