The United States has encouraged Moscow and Jerusalem to resolve a dispute over an Israeli agency operating in Russia that encourages immigration into the Jewish state, which has threatened to escalate into a major diplomatic row.
US State Department spokesman said on Thursday The Times of Israel That the US hopes that Israel and Russian officials will reach an agreement “to preserve the ability of Russian Jews to travel to Israel.”
Last week, Russia’s Ministry of Justice filed a motion to shut down the country’s offices of the Jewish Israel Agency, a quasi-governmental group, alleging that the agency violated local laws and illegally charged Russian citizens. information collected.
Israeli officials and analysts interpreted the move as a threatening gesture by Russia, severing ties over Jerusalem’s support for Ukraine.
A State Department spokesman said Washington was monitoring the situation.
Immigration Minister Pina Tamano-Shata said on Thursday that Israel is ready to address the Russian government’s legal demands on Jewish institutions and make the necessary adjustments to allow the group to continue operating in the country.
His comments follow a preliminary court hearing in Moscow on the claims.
“The Israeli government is providing necessary legal assistance to Jewish institutions to deal with the charges leveled against them by the Russian Ministry of Justice, and I believe that this matter will be resolved soon. Even if some adjustments are made to this Even if it is needed, we are ready”, says Tamano-Shata.
During the hearing, the judge fixed August 19 as the date for commencement of arguments.
According to Jewish agencies, 16,000 Russian Jews have immigrated to Israel since the invasion began.
Rabbi Pinchus Goldschmidt, the former head of Moscow, who has been in exile in Israel since March, estimates that more than 30,000 dual passport holders have left Russia for Israel since February 24.
Jews are leaving Russia in large numbers, in part because of fear of a new “Iron Curtain: one day (it will be impossible to leave)”), the rabbi said, adding that what he said was Jewish concern that Putin’s government would be traveling abroad. may impose restrictions. ,
He said Moscow’s actions against Jewish institutions had, among other incidents, fueled “fears of growing anti-Semitism”.
Israel sent a delegation to Moscow on Wednesday to try to persuade Russia to allow Russia to continue working in the country. The group includes representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Absorption.
Israel is trying to de-escalate tensions with Russia, a major power and major player in the Middle East, whose purpose is unclear when threatening Jewish institutions. Israel has relied on Russian non-intervention to conduct air strikes against military bases in Syria suspected of being linked to Iran.
Russia sent mixed messages, with the Kremlin calling the dispute a purely legal matter, while its foreign ministry accused Israel of longstanding “unstructured” and “biased” behavior towards Moscow.
Some see Moscow’s actions against Jewish institutions as a response to Prime Minister Yair Rapid’s continued blatant condemnation of the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
Jewish Agency officials initially believed that disputes over the group’s operations in Russia could be resolved quickly through negotiation and settlement after Russian officials warned earlier this month that the group could face sanctions. Is.
The Jewish Agency then approached the Foreign Ministry to intervene on their behalf.
Rapide warned Moscow that the shutdown would be a “serious incident” threatening bilateral ties.
The Kremlin said the move should not be “politicised”, calling it a purely legal issue.
In 1989 Jewish institutions in Russia began to function.
Of Israel’s current 9.4 million people, more than a million are from the former Soviet Union.
dark clouds on the horizon
Goldsmith, who left Russia in March to protest the conflict, warned on Thursday that “a dark cloud will be over Russia’s Jews” as relations between the two countries deteriorated over the war in Ukraine.
“The Jewish community is under pressure … to openly support war. Our community does not support war.”
“The situation is alarming” and for Russian Jews “there are many dark clouds on the horizon,” he said, adding that their “security and future … depend on the relationship between Israel and Russia.”
“Now, I have no way of going back,” the Swiss-born rabbi said at an online briefing, “if I (still) were the chief rabbi of Moscow, I wouldn’t have been able to do this without putting it in danger. is in.” Talk openly just in case. community”.
“I have decided to remain in exile until the political situation changes.”
Some experts attribute the Russian threat to the agency for its efforts to curb mass immigration.
“If Russia wants to stop the brain drain of its best scientists and creative classes, the best way is not to shut down Jewish institutions, but to stop the war,” Goldschmidt said.
With information from The Times of Israel