June 17, 2010 | Quote

Germany’s ‘Growing Displeasure With Israeli Conduct’

Shimon Stein, a former Israeli Ambassador to Germany, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the decision of Germany’s top prosecutor to issue an extradition order for an alleged Israeli spy – reportedly involved in the forgery of a German passport used to travel to Dubai to assassinate Hamas arms smuggler Mahmoud al-Mabhouh – should not be seen “in isolation but in a broader context of growing displeasure with Israeli conduct.”

On June 4 in Warsaw Polish authorities arrested a man using the name Uri Brodsky who is suspected of working for the Mossad in Germany.

Stein said that German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle “spoke at an early stage for clarification” in connection with the murder of Mabhouh.

“Germany was a bit embarrassed, to put it mildly…there were too many footprints suggesting we are behind it,” said Stein.

He added that”incidents in the past could be ironed out” but “someone had an interest to leak” the arrest of the alleged Israeli agent.

It is unclear who leaked the capture of the alleged intelligence officer in Warsaw to the magazine Der Spiegel. When asked about reported diplomatic strains between Israel and Germany, Stein said there are “those interested in bringing those frictions to the fore.”

When questioned if the extradition order caused diplomatic friction between Israel and Germany, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry, in an email to the Post on Wednesday said, “there are no diplomatic tensions between Germany and Israel.”

The thorny issue of whether Germany is unfairly clamping down on the intelligence activities of its ally Israel while ignoring the presence of terrorists in the Federal Republic surfaced in the German media. Writing in the large daily Die Welt on Wednesday, Norbert Jessen, a veteran reporter covering German-Israeli relations, noted ,“Even the presence of known international terrorists from Middle Eastern states on German soil does not always lead to their immediate arrest. They are often left alone even without diplomatic passports.”

Stein a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel usually “takes a low profile” but called for “an international inquiry” after Israel’s seizure of the Gaza flotilla.

“The atmosphere is not conducive” to Israel in the Federal Republic.

“While things went well for so many years” with respect to the so-called German-Israeli special relationship , the “winds are not blowing in our direction” at this time, said Stein, a leading authority on German-Israeli relations.

When asked about the arrest of the alleged Mossad agent and the role of Germany, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin declined to comment.

A spokesman for Germany’s top prosecutor told the Post on Wednesday that “the Polish authorities will decide” if the alleged intelligence agent will be extradited to Germany.

By e-mail to the Post, the German prosecutor’s office wrote that the office “is conducting an investigatory process “ involving “the alleged secret service background of the acquisition of a German passport.” Citing provisions of German law, the prosecutor’s statement said the investigative process is based on the “suspicion of activity of a foreign agent and indirect false certification.”

If the Polish authorities extradite the alleged Israeli spy to a court in the German city of Karlsruhe , where the Federal German prosecutor’s office is based, three judicial possibilities would unfold.

The agent could be imprisoned during the legal process or the arrest order could be revoked, resulting in the agent’s release. The third possibility is he could be stripped of his passport and the court could set bail to avoid incarceration while he waits for the judicial inquiry to issue its determination.