Russia moves to shut agency handling immigration to Israel amid Ukraine rift

Of note:

Russia has threatened to shut down a major Jewish agency that promotes immigration to Israel amid tensions between the two nations over the invasion of Ukraine.

The Justice Ministry seeks to liquidate the country’s branch of the Jewish Agency for Israel, according to a notice from Moscow’s Basmanny district court, where the case will be heard Thursday.

The court’s website does not say what laws the nonprofit agency had broken, and Russia’s Justice Ministry, which filed for its dissolution on July 15, did not respond to a request for comment.

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said the dissolution was related to a breach of “compliance with Russian legislation.” He refused to give further details at a news conference Friday.

Acting Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement Thursday that a delegation with representatives from his office and several other ministries would travel to Russia for talks ahead of the hearing about the agency, which operates in coordination with his government.

Lapid accused Russia of carrying out war crimes in Ukraine when he was foreign minister in April.

Established in 1929, the Jewish Agency, or Sochnut, was instrumental in the formation of the state of Israel in 1948.

It was banned by the Soviet Union, where state-sanctioned antisemitism barred Jews from many jobs and schools. Yuri Kanner, the president of the Russian Jewish Congress, told NBC News on Friday that an office opened in Russia shortly after the Soviet bloc collapsed in 1989.

Since then, it has helped to advance Israel’s Law of Return, which states that any Jewish person, or a person with one or more Jewish grandparents, has the right to settle in Israel and obtain citizenship.Hundreds of thousands of people have relocated from Russia.

“This is an old and reputable institution,” Kanner said, adding that it had never been embroiled in any scandals.

NBC News has asked the agency for comment.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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