The Government has decided to expel an Israeli diplomat over the use of forged Irish passports in the assassination of a Hamas member in Dubai in January.

In a statement, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said Israel was being requested to withdraw a designated member of its Dublin embassy staff.

Mr Martin said the official is not accused or suspected of any particular wrongdoing, but is a victim of the actions of the state they represent.

The Government said an investigation by gardaí and the Passport Office confirmed that the eight Irish passports used by suspects in the Dubai murder were forgeries.

The statement said no additional evidence was found linking the Irish passports to Israel.

However, the fact that the forged Irish passports were used by the same group who carried forged British and Australian passports lead the Government to conclude that an Israeli government agency was responsible for their misuse.

Minister Martin said the Government does not propose to reveal the name or function of the expelled diplomat.

He said the Government condemned the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January.

'I hope that, by the action which I have announced today, both countries will eventually be able to move past this incident and that such unfriendly actions damaging to overall relations are not repeated,' he said.

In response, the Israeli embassy said it regretted the Government's decision.

Israel Ambassador Dr Zion Evrony was informed of the decision at a meeting this morning with Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary General David Cooney

In a statement the embassy said: 'We believe that it does not reflect the overall positive relations which exist between Ireland and Israel.'