Mossad boss heads for exit after Dubai murder fallout

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Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, could step down in three months after the country's Prime Minister refused to extend his term, a television channel has claimed.

The unconfirmed reports will prompt speculation that Mr Dagan, 65, is being ousted over a botched operation in January to kill a Hamas operative in Dubai that led to a diplomatic backlash from some of Israel's closest allies.

Israel's Channel Two television claimed that Mr Dagan, who has served eight years in the post, asked Benjamin Netanyahu to extend his term, but the request was turned down. Mr Netanyahu's office immediately refuted the reports, saying that Mr Dagan "did not turn to us and did not ask us to extend his term."

Mossad has come under fire for its perceived role in the slaying of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a leading figure in Hamas. Israel has refused to deny or confirm that it carried out the operation. Infuriated at the fraudulent use of their passports in the operation, the British, Australian and Irish governments all expelled Israeli diplomats and Germany is to try a suspected Israeli spy accused of obtaining a German passport on behalf of the Dubai assassins.

The operation prompted calls in Israel for Mr Dagan's resignation for bringing disrepute and shame on to the head of one of the world's most feared intelligence agencies. Under his watch, Mossad is believed to have notched up a series of hits, including the assassinations of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus and Brigadier General Mohammed Suleiman, a senior figure in Syrian intelligence.