British officials censored a recently released draft dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) to keep criticism of Israel secret, The Guardian reported Thursday.
Britain argued that it was "inevitable" that British-Israeli relations would suffer if a reference in the draft was made public, the newspaper reported.
It cited the full text of a witness statement submitted by a senior foreign ministry official to the Information Tribunal.
The 30-page draft, drawn up by the Foreign Office's then communications director John Williams on July 24, 2002, and classified "confidential", had been the subject of a request under Britain's freedom of information laws.
It was finally released to the public earlier this week.
The Guardian reported that before the draft was released to the public, the foreign ministry appealed to the Information Tribunal, which rules on freedom of information disputes, to conceal the Israel reference.
The reference was reportedly written in the margin by an unknown person commenting on the opening paragraph of the draft dossier.
It appeared beside the claim that "no other country (aside from Iraq) has flouted the United Nations' authority so brazenly in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction."
Israel is widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power with an estimated 200 warheads although it has never confirmed or denied having an atomic arsenal.
The foreign ministry had no objections, however, to references to the United States and Germany against claims that no other country had twice launched wars of aggression against neighbours -- nor to Japan in relation to a reference about the use of chemical weapons.
The document reveals how the Foreign Office successfully fought to keep secret any mention of Israel contained on the first draft of the controversial, now discredited Iraq weapons dossier. At the heart of it was nervousness at the top of government about any mention of Israel's nuclear arsenal in an official paper accusing Iraq of flouting the UN's authority on weapons of mass destruction.
The dossier was made public this week, but the Foreign Office succeeded before a tribunal in having the handwritten mention of Israel kept secret.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Şubat 2008, 11:02