The Sketch: When this mysterious tale became even murkier

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The Independent Online

We had a bit of a guessing game in the Commons when David Miliband wouldn't tell us whom he had expelled from Israel's London embassy in the Dubai passport affair.

He'd determined that the Hamas leader had been the victim of an extra-judicial killing ("murdered" in English) and the perpetrators had traveled on cloned British passports.

This was a great affront to Her Majesty's government and David had demanded a letter – yes, in writing – from an Israeli minister that it would never happen again.

Also, he sought assurances that Israel really, really didn't do it.

And third, a diplomat had been expelled from the Israeli embassy. But we couldn't judge how displeased we were because David wouldn't tell us who'd been selected. Was it the embassy cleaner? A barman? The ambassador's driver's wife's masseur? No information.

Andrew MacKinlay kicked off the game by asking who had chosen the unidentified official to be kicked out. Was it us or was it the Israeli ambassador who made the decision? And if it was our choice, was it because this person had their fingerprints all over it? And if that was the case wasn't it a rather limp response, considering? That seemed a little conspiratorial, at first.

But then Douglas Hogg joined in with his black-cap utterance that it had been a criminal conspiracy to commit murder, and why hadn't we issued an international warrant under anti-terror legislation.

David said, "the issues have been carefully weighed and walked through". But still he wouldn't give any indication of the name or rank of the diplomat.

Ming Campbell praised the Foreign Secretary for his "remarkable restraint and fastidiousness". But that was only because he felt the government of Israel itself was involved. It had been, he hinted, a state-sponsored murder.

Mark Durkan asked whether our Foreign Secretary had believed Israel's Foreign Secretary when he claimed to know nothing about it.

David gave a pretty unambiguous answer to that: "I believe the system of governance is different over there" in that the intelligence services didn't report to their Foreign Secretary. I think that meant, "I didn't believe Myra Hindley either."

Afterwards I asked a colleague who the expelled one was, and he said, "The station head for Mossad." That's always a bit of a thrill to hear those words and I've been glancing around quickly ever since.

Fair play to David Miliband. We talk about courageous decisions in politics but that's actually a courageous decision. If we find him bobbing in the waters off the Canary Islands we'll know the reason why.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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