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Herzog Calls Putin to Discuss Jewish Agency Closure

August 10, 2022

by: Kate Norman

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President of Israel, Isaac Herzog

Wednesday, 10 August 2022 | Israeli President Isaac Herzog phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday to discuss Russia’s attempt to halt the Jewish Agency’s activities in its country, according to a statement by Herzog’s office.

“The presidents discussed Israeli–Russian bilateral relations, including the challenges of the Jewish people in the Diaspora [outside Israel],” the president’s spokesperson said. “In this context, President Herzog elaborated on the issue of the activities of the Jewish Agency in Russia.”

The Jewish Agency received a letter last month from the Russian Justice Ministry ordering it to halt all activity within the country, reportedly accusing the organization of illegally collecting information about Russian citizens.

The Jewish Agency is an autonomous organization that works closely with the Israeli government to encourage Diaspora Jews to make aliyah (immigration to Israel). The organization has been working in Russia since 1989. As it helps Russian Jews immigrate to Israel, the Jewish Agency collects information about their background to validate their Jewish heritage.

A second court hearing is scheduled for August 19, after a preliminary hearing was held on July 28 in Moscow.

An Israeli delegation comprising representatives from Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister’s Office, Justice Ministry and Absorption Ministry visited Russia last month. They were instructed by Prime Minister Yair Lapid to “make every effort to exhaust the legal dialogue” as well as “high-level diplomatic dialogue” to keep the local Jewish Agency’s doors open.

The delegation made little headway, however, as Russia refused to even open negotiations by providing steps that Israel or the Jewish Agency could take to stop the impending closure.

The president’s spokesperson did not indicate whether any progress was made during yesterday’s phone call between the presidents.

“The phone call was frank and honest,” the statement said. “The two presidents emphasized the important areas of cooperation between Israel and Russia and agreed to remain in contact.”

“President Putin underscored his personal commitment to Holocaust commemoration and the fight against anti-Semitism,” Herzog’s spokesperson added.

Herzog made the phone call at Lapid’s request in coordination with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the statement concluded.

Lapid warned last month that the shuttering of the Jewish Agency’s offices in Russia could have “a serious impact” on relations between Jerusalem and Moscow.

Posted on August 10, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 9, 2022)

Photo Credit: אלעד ברמי Elad Brami/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

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