by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid has instructed a legal delegation to prepare for talks with Moscow after Russia’s Justice Ministry last week filed a court request to shut down the Jewish Agency in the country, i24 News reports. The Jewish Agency is responsible for assisting Jews worldwide to immigrate to Israel and has operated in Russia for 30 years.
Russia’s government has cited legal violations as reasons for closing the Jewish Agency, but it is not clear whether this is a pretext for an underlying political motive: Russia has been angered by Israel’s support of Ukraine in the ongoing war there.
Speaking to the Times of Israel, a Jewish Agency official said: “We tried to keep things low-key and sort it out by exchanging letters with lawyers and trying to reach a compromise. Now that they took it to court, it is clear that they are not looking for compromise or negotiations. It is clear that this is a political move…This is not really about some legal disagreements or technical procedure that was breached or even just a small-time attempt to intimidate the Jewish Agency because they are antisemitic or oppose immigration or something,” the official said. “This legal delegation is not going to solve anything, but we have to play the game. There will need to be political involvement.”
In a statement Sunday, Lapid said Russia’s closure of the Jewish Agency would have a “serious” impact on Russian-Israeli relations, i24 reports. “The Jewish community in Russia is large and important and comes up in every diplomatic discussion with the government in Moscow,” Lapid added.
Concerning the way forward, Lapid’s office said in a separate statement: “The prime minister instructed the legal delegation to 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 alongside advancing the high-level diplomatic dialogue on the issue,” i24 News reports.
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