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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israeli Help In Caucasus Misstated




Reports that Israel's Foreign Ministry planned to supply Russia with intelligence on Islamic insurgents in the southern republic of Dagestan resulted from a translation mistake, a spokeswoman for Foreign Minister David Levy said Tuesday.


After Levy met Russian Ambassador Mikhail Bogdanov in Tel Aviv on Aug. 16, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement in English saying the two men had discussed "exchanging intelligence."


But Odella Karmon-Lazar, Levy's spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the translation from Hebrew was flawed and should have said "information" rather than "intelligence."


"It's just passage of information," Karmon-Lazar said. "It's not intelligence. It was just like, 'Oh, you know, we should fight this together.'"


The statement, however, led to a spate of media reports that Israel was planning to unleash its powerful intelligence services on Chechen separatists who have declared a holy war against Russia and are fighting federal forces in Dagestan.


The statement, distributed by Levy's office, said "defensive forces must be deployed against the threat of Islamic fundamentalism to Israel and all the other nations in the region f the sooner the better." Russia and Israel, it said, were "fighting a common battle, both geographically and in terms of our common values."


Israel, which is under constant threat of terrorist attack, has interests in keeping Islamic fundamentalists out of power in the Caucasus for fear they will use the territory to harbor and train fighters.


That fear was exacerbated by a recent report in the New York Post that Osama bin Laden f accused of orchestrating two U.S. embassy bombings in Africa last year f has been funding the rebels. The Russian newspaper Vremya MN also quoted the radical Palestinian Hamas group leader Mahmud Zahar as saying that "residents of the Caucasus republics should live under Islamic law, as is prescribed for Moslems."