In deciding to expel an Israeli diplomat and issue a travel advisory to citizens traveling to Israel and the Palestinian territories, the diplomats in Britain’s Foreign Office were in favor (and won out), while officials in Britain’s security service were opposed. The moves were taken, of course, in protest of the faked British passports used in the (likely Mossad-backed) assassination of a Hamas weapons procurer in Dubai. Australia, whose passports were also forged, is likely next to act.
So what does this mean? It means that, barring further sensational evidence that it was indeed the Mossad who killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, you probably just saw the extent of adverse political consequences to the assassination for Israel. And even if there are further wrist-slaps, there are not going to be fundamental break-downs in Israeli alliances over this: no matter how much the diplomats want it, other countries’ intelligence services clearly understand, first, that covert assassination of state enemies on foreign soil is something of the way business is done; and, second, that they need cooperation with Israeli intelligence at least as much as Israeli intelligence needs cooperation with them.
A top Israeli diplomat had the most telling line: “The British really did the minimum required on their part over the passports,” he told Haaretz. In other words, if positions were reversed, this figure would have wanted to do the same thing—after all, he’s a diplomat.