Following the announcement, Lapid held a situation assessment, where it was decided to send a delegation to Moscow.
By World Israel News Staff
The Russian Justice Ministry has officially requested the closing down of the Jewish Agency for Israel, RIA Novosti News Agency reported on Thursday afternoon.
The order was given via a letter from the Russian government to the NGO. The Jewish Agency was reportedly weighing its options, with support from Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office.
The news comes as no surprise. Earlier this month, the ministry ordered the agency to immediately halt all operations in the country.
Senior sources told The Jerusalem Post that the situation has not changed in the past few weeks.
The hearing on the request will take place on July 28 at the Basmanny District Court of Moscow.
A source familiar with the matter told the Post that “the issue isn’t legal but rather political, and the decision will change only if the Israeli political and diplomatic leadership get their act together.”
If the Agency, which facilitates Aliyah from around the world, is closed down in Russia, it could result in Russian Jews being unable to move to Israel for the first time in decades.
Earlier in July, a source told the Post: “Russia is saying the Jewish Agency illegally collected info about Russian citizens… We will bring up the Jewish Agency [with Russian authorities] and address it in an organized way. It will be taken care of at the embassy level. We don’t totally understand the reasoning [of the request to stop Jewish Agency’s activities in Russia].”
The Post noted that Moscow’s crackdown on the Agency began when Yair Lapid, who has been vocal in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, became prime minister. However, there has been no change in Israeli policy on Russia since former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stepped down.
“The immigration of Jews to Israel is a basic right that every Jew in the world has,” said Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, the Post reported.
“The Jewish Agency’s activities take place all over Europe and in the rest of the continents, as well as in Russia, in full coordination with local authorities. Israeli Diplomats have made efforts to clarify the issue and regulate the activities in coordination.
“As the person responsible for the immigration of Jews and their absorption in Israel, I recently addressed Prime Minister Yair Lapid several times to hold a discussion at the political level and I am in constant contact with Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Ushpiz,” she added.
“As we have known to work in cooperation with the Russian authorities for many decades, I have no doubt that they will find the appropriate solutions.”
Lapid held a situation assessment later in the early evening with representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Council regarding the activity of the Jewish Agency in Russia, his office announced in a press release.
It was decided to send a joint delegation from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration to ensure the continuation of the Jewish Agency’s activity in Russia.
He also discussed the issue with Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata. An additional inter-agency discussion will be held on Sunday.
“The Jewish community in Russia is deeply connected with Israel. Its importance arises in every diplomatic discussion with the Russian leadership. We will continue to act through diplomatic channels so that the Jewish Agency’s important activity will not cease,” Lapid stated.
Russia’s Mideast policy also appears to have changed in recent months, as Moscow has been warming up to Iran. President Vladimir Putin was welcomed in Iran this week at a meeting that included Turkish President Erdogan.