“pitiful, hurtful“and”politicsIn Israel, Moscow’s desire to close the Jewish Agency is seen as a punitive measure in reaction to the positions of the new Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, against Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.
A Moscow court said Thursday (July 21st) that the Russian Justice Ministry requested the dissolution of the para-governmental agency responsible for Jewish immigration to Israel on its soil, citing violations of the law. On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that the move was a matter of “compliance with Russian law“.
“Breaking the world order”
Promises that “act through diplomatic channelsto allow the organization to continue its work, Yaïr Lapid announced the sending of an Israeli delegation next week to Moscow. Other government voices have become louder, with Diaspora Minister Nahman Shai saying that “the attempt to punish the Jewish Agency for Israel’s position in the war is pathetic and offensive“. “Russian Jews cannot be held hostage in the war in Ukraine“, he tweeted again.
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After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Israel initially took a cautious stance, with ex-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett arguing for special relations between the two countries, because the Jewish state has more of one million citizens from the former Soviet Union. Yaïr Lapid, former head of diplomacy, strongly condemned “a serious violation of international order“. “It is clear to everyone involved in Russian-Israeli relations that the decision (about the Jewish Agency) is political, because of Israel’s and Lapid’s stance on the war in Ukraine.wrote political commentator Itamar Eichner in the Yediot Aharonoth newspaper on Friday.
For the analyst Ksenia Svetlova, if Russia’s intention is part of a context of general hardening vis-à-vis foreign organizations, it is also a question for Moscow in “sniffingin the Israeli elections, in which the former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the highest in the history of Israel was removed from power in June 2021 by the Bennett-Lapid alliance, hoping to sign his great return.
“This could be a preventive measure (Yair Lapid), preventing him from selling arms to Ukraine or providing another kind of support, but also a gesture towards someone who always attacks and who wants to replace him , NetanyahuKsenia Svetlova of the Israeli research center Mitvim told AFP. Between the two countries, there is also talk of a fight over the property rights of a Russian church in Jerusalem, a file that “the Russians want to put pressure on“, believed Itamar Eichner.
But for Michael Oren, the former ambassador of Israel to the United States, the case is above all a matter of geopolitics in the Middle East, as the Jewish state makes raids in neighboring Syria, where Moscow is in support of regime. Israel targets groups close to Iran, its number one enemy. “The main question is our ability to operate freely in Syria, while Russia is constantly threatening us to operate against us there.“said Michael Oren, for whom the attack on the Jewish Agency”is a simpler way of expressing anger“.
Israeli strikes against Damascus airport or the port of Tartous, where Moscow has a naval base, have particularangry with the Russiansadded Itamar Eichner. With the invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s isolation on the international stage pushed itby leaps and boundstowards Iran, outlines Ms. Svetlova, a few days after the summit between the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Tehran.
“Israel’s long-term policy is to maintain good relations with Russia … while preventing arms sales to Iran.“, he added. “It is not certain that Israel will achieve this as the camps in the Middle East have become clear, the visits of (Joe) Biden (to Israel) and (Vladimir) Putin (to Iran) show this.“.
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