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Barak Obama's dangerous new lurch into anti-Israel populism changes global politics in extremely dangerous ways, and poses a challenge for Kevin Rudd. - Greg Sheridan.

The Foreign Editor of The Weekend Australian, Greg Sheridan, reports:

March 27-28/10. The Australian Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has called on the Rudd government not to expel an Israeli diplomat over allegations the Israeli secret service, Mossed, used forged Australian passports in the assassination of a Hamas terrorist in Dubai.

Mahmoud al-Mahouh was found dead in his hotel room in Dubai on January 20 this year. The Dubai authorities later established he had been murdered.

Abbott wants the Rudd government to ignore the precedent set by Gordon Brown's government in London, which expelled an Israeli diplomat as punishment for the use of British passports in the Dubai killing.

While stressing that he did not condone the misuse of Australian passports, and while it is not yet known whether Israel was involved in the assassination, Mr Abbott pleaded for understanding for the Jewish state.

"We can never forget that Israel is a country under existential threat in a way Australians find difficult to understand," Mr Abbott told The Weekend Australian. "It's also the only pluralist democracy in the Middle East.

"We have to understand that Israel sometimes has to do something which mercifully other countries are spared the necessity of doing. It strikes me that it would be an over-reaction to expel an Israeli diplomat."

The Rudd government is in the midst of considering how it will handle a report on the passports affair from the Australian Federal Police. The AFP group sent to Israel to investigate whether Mossad was involved in the misuse of Australian passports left Israel to return to Australia on March 8. Its report has not been finalised.

The British government gave Canberra a copy of its report, which found it "highly likely" that Israel was involved in the misuse of British passports.

PM Kevin Rudd told ABC radio yesterday that the government had yet to make up its mind on how it would react to the AFP report. He said; "It's currently with the Australian Federal Police and others ... those investigations are ongoing."

Sources have also told The Weekend Australian that Australian intelligence agencies use forged passports in their clandestine work.

Analysts believe the agency most likely to do this is the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, which runs secret operations in numerous countries.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop told The Weekend Australian: "It would be naive in the extreme to believe a foreign power never used a forged passport. The Australian government would have to be very careful to ensure that Australian agencies never used forged passports."

She said expelling an Israeli diplomat would be an "extreme step" and that she would "not want to see Kevin Rudd politicize this case in an election year."

COMMENT: Britain's expulsion of an Israeli diplomat is an example of the hypocrisy of governments. As Julie Bishop rightly said, "It would be naive in the extreme to believe a foreign power never used a forged passport."
Would Gordon Brown have us believe that the British intelligence agencies are squeaky clean?
In fact, European intelligence agencies have warned their governments not to point fingers at Israel regarding the presumed stolen passports issue. because three fingers point back at themselves.

Tony Abbott is right! Most Australians have not idea of what it is like to be, like Israel, besieged by violent terrorists whose main goal is to see you wiped out. And they have no idea of what feels like to be constantly dictated to, and vilified by most of the nations of the world, and the United Nations.



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