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When Mossad agents used forged Australian passports to travel to Dubai to assassinate a Hamas official in 2010 it was not the first time the Israelis had been caught using fake Australian documents.
It was in the fact the second time in less than a decade and in breach of a signed promise Israel made to Australia not to do it again after being caught forging Australian passports seven years earlier.
The revelation is contained in Kevin Rudd’s new book -The PM Years – his biographical account of his time as prime minister, the Labor leadership coup in 2010 and his return to the job.
In May 2010, the Rudd government expelled from Australia an Israeli diplomat, widely believed to be a Mossad agent, after four of the suspects implicated in the assassination of Hamas arms dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room earlier that year were found to have travelled on forged Australian passports in the names of dual Australian-Israeli citizens.
Ireland and Britain also kicked Israeli diplomats out of their countries after their passports were also forged and used by agents involved in the same killing.
Mr Rudd claims members of the Australian Jewish lobby, which condemned the decision as an “over-reaction”, tried to “menace” him for his strong response and doubted him when he told them it was the second time Mossad had abused Australian passports, potentially putting the safety of ordinary travelling Australians in the Middle East at risk.
Mr Rudd said Mossad had been “found out” forging Australian passports before in 2003 when the Howard government was in power. Dennis Richardson, who was the head of ASIO at the time, is said to have “hauled them over the coals” and forced the Israelis to promise not to do it again – a vow Mr Rudd doubts they ever intended to keep.
“The Israelis had been forced to sign an agreement with us that if we were to continue intelligence cooperation with them in the future, they would never do this again,” he said.
“Obviously the Israelis had not taken us seriously, because they did it again – this time in a botched intelligence operation which culminated in the assassination of a Hamas leader visiting Dubai.
“Mossad had left their paw prints all over the operation.”
Australia’s response was discussed by the National Security Committee, and Mr Richardson, who was by then the secretary of the department of foreign affairs, unequivocally advised the government to “act firmly and decisively” or risk being seen as a “soft touch” by the Israelis.
Mr Rudd recalls the room nodding in agreement with Mr Richardson’s advice except Julia Gillard. “I asked her explicitly whether she supported the recommendation. She grunted her assent,” Mr Rudd recounted.
“I knew for a fact that Julia had been cultivating the Israeli lobby in Australia,” he said.
Mr Rudd says a member of the lobby, Mark Leibler “went off ” his head at the decision and excused it as the work of those involved in the ugly world of intelligence.
The former Labor leader, a strong supporter of Israel although recent critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he invited Jewish leaders to the Lodge for dinner to discuss the government’s response out of respect of Labor Jewish Melbourne MPs Michael Danby and Mark Dreyfus who had lobbied him over the matter.
“I sat there politely as Mark Leibler berated me for having committed such a hostile act,” he said.
Mr Rudd said when he informed Mr Leibler that it was the second Mossad offence after getting off with a “gentle rap over the knuckles” and promising never to do it again, Mr Leibler responded: “I don’t believe you.”
Mr Rudd said at this point he offered to provide Mr Leibler with an authorised briefing with Mr Richardson. But Mr Leibler turned angry and made what he perceived as a menacing threat to his leadership.
“He said ‘Julia is looking very good in the public eye these days, Prime Minister. She’s performing very strongly. She’s a great friend of Israel. But you shouldn’t be anxious about her, should you, Prime Minister?’”
That dinner was held on June 3. Three weeks later, Ms Gillard toppled Mr Rudd as prime minister.
Mr Leibler emphatically rejected Mr Rudd’s claims, telling Fairfax Media the former prime minister was peddling “far-fetched conspiracy theories” and that his account was “completely false, virtually from top to bottom”.
The prominent Melbourne lawyer rejected all quotes attributed to him about the meeting and the implication “that I or some mythical pro-Israel conspiracy somehow had a role in Julia Gillard’s success in overthrowing Mr Rudd” in the Labor leadership coup.
“Nothing even approximating the threat quoted in the article was said by me or anyone else,” he said, adding the then-prime minister had merely been sensitive and defensive when Mr Leibler raised Ms Gillard’s record on Israel.
Mr Leibler said he assured Mr Rudd he shared the government’s concerns about Mossad’s misuse of passports and would be raising the issue with the Israel government directly.
“I am shocked and disappointed that completely false accounts of the meeting are now being used to prop up far-fetched conspiracy theories by a former prime minister,” he said.
https://www .smh .com.au/politics/federal/israel-forged-australian-passports-before-kevin-rudd-reveals-in-new-book-20181018-p50acp.html
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