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Uzbek-Israeli Diplomatic Dust-Up

Israeli President Shimon Peres skirted Uzbekistan over the summer.
Israeli President Shimon Peres skirted Uzbekistan over the summer.
Darts continue to fly over abortive meetings between Uzbek and Israeli officials, including a trip that would have taken Israeli President Shimon Peres to Tashkent last summer.

We already provided the details, but the upshot is that protocol slip-ups are being blamed for sidetracking the visits. In the first, Israeli Ambassador to Tashkent Hillel Newman reportedly tried to use back channels at the UN (presidential daughter Gulnara Karimova) to speed up preparations for Peres's visit; in the second, the Israeli Embassy failed to note that a group of visiting Israeli mayors would be encouraging Uzbek Jews to emigrate.

There was a shakedown of an Uzbek deputy prime minister during an Israel stopover in there, too.

But the broader question is whether the snafus signal genuine strains in bilateral relations between a major Mideast power and one of post-Soviet Central Asia's more cryptic capitals.

The Israelis have argued that a Russian-language website based in Israel, "Izrus," is simply making mischief.

"Izrus" is undaunted.

When our Uzbek Service spoke with website editor Mikhail Falkov, he appeared to try to throw Ambassador Newman under the bus: "Mr. Newman is an example of failures of Israel for the last years in diplomatic relations. He is in the position only for one year. He doesn't know Russian and lacks knowledge about the region..."

So the spat continues.

But at this point, to the casual observer, it might look a lot like Tashkent and Tel Aviv have hit a diplomatic rough patch and Tel Aviv is trying to blame the messenger.

-- Komila Nabiyeva

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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