Israeli PM: Closing Moscow Jewish Agency 'serious'; to affect ties
Yair Lapid called the decision as a "serious event" that will affect bilateral ties.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday that Russia's decision to shut down an agency that processes Jewish immigration to "Israel" is a "serious event" that will impact bilateral ties.
Last week, a Moscow court said that the justice ministry had requested the "dissolution" of the Jewish Agency for legal violations that were not specified, setting a hearing on July 28.
Some interpret this revelation as Moscow's warning against Lapid, who has taken a stricter approach to the Ukraine war than the former PM, Naftali Bennett.
On Sunday, Lapid told a meeting of senior officials that "closing the Jewish Agency offices would be a serious event that would affect relations", a government statement said.
He also ordered that a "legal delegation be prepared to depart for Moscow as soon as the Russian approval for talks is received and to make every effort to exhaust the legal dialogue" in addition to diplomatic efforts to ameliorate the tensions.
The Jewish Agency, which was established in 1929, played a key role in the colonization of Palestine and then the creation of the Israeli occupation regime in 1948. It began its work in Russia in 1989, two years before the Soviet Union collapsed. Hundreds of thousands of Jews in Russia migrated to "Israel" after that.
Although closing the Jewish Agency would not stop Russian Jews from moving to "Israel," it would slow down the process.
Dissolving Jewish Agency's work 'political punishment'
On Thursday, Israeli media reported "great tension between Russia and Israel", against the background of reports from Moscow about dissolving the Jewish Agency's operation in Russia, noting that this matter may be related to Prime Minister Yair Lapid's statement about the war in Ukraine.
Relations between "Israel" and Russia have witnessed tension in recent months, as the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to Russia, Alexander Ben Zvi, against the background of a statement by Yair Lapid when he was foreign minister of the occupation last April, in which he condemned Russia's practices in Ukraine, describing them as "war crimes".
Israeli media reported on July 21 that "Israel" considers dissolving the Jewish Agency's operation in Russia a "political punishment" for "Israel's" stance on the Ukraine war.
Israeli Channel 13's political affairs correspondent, Moriah Wahlberg, said that "Russia wants to stop the operation of the Jewish Agency, ostensibly, and there is talk of a technical bureaucratic matter, but in Israel, they say that it is a political punishment."
She added that "Israel" tried "not create a diplomatic crisis, but that did not work."