Effective Immediately: Moscow Orders Jewish Agency to Halt Operations in Russia

The ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim, in West Jerusalem. (Photo: Oren Ziv, via Activestills.org)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

“Russia has ordered the agency in charge of organizing the emigration of Jews to Israel to halt activities immediately,” Bloomberg News, citing the Israeli government, reported on Tuesday. 

The news is indicative of the rapidly deteriorating relationship between Moscow and Tel Aviv. 

“A Kremlin decision to shutter the activities of the Jewish Agency, which has operated in Russia and the Soviet Union since the late Communist era, would mark a dramatic worsening of ties between the two countries and could complicate Jews’ efforts to leave Russia,” Bloomberg also reported, adding, “more than a million from the former Soviet Union have moved to Israel in the past two decades.” 

Initially, the agency, largely responsible for populating historic Palestine with Jewish settlers from all over the world, claimed that “no such demand” from Russian authorities was made and that it is “continuing to operate as planned.” 

Later, the agency said that it was reviewing a recent letter from Russian officials who warned of “possible legal consequences” from “problems” identified during inspections. 

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Russian justice ministry says the agency is collecting, saving and transferring information on Russians, which is illegal and so it should shut down. 

The news however was later confirmed when “a letter sent by the Israeli minister of immigration and absorption to interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that the agency had informed him of a directive issued by the Russian Justice Ministry halting its operations,” according to Bloomberg. 

The letter read in part, 

“Such a decision has dramatic and precedent-setting consequences for the possibility of Jews and those entitled under the Law of Return to exercise the right to immigrate to the State of Israel. Mr. Prime Minister, I would like you to intervene urgently with the Russian government officials to continue the activities of the Jewish Agency in Russia so that the continued immigration from Russia will not be harmed.”

(PC, Agencies)

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