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Analysis

Ukraine Crisis Consequences Touching Jewish Agency’s Russian Branch

Monday 25 July 2022
Ukraine Crisis Consequences Touching Jewish Agency’s Russian Branch

Alwaght- Amid escalated tensions between Russia and the Israeli regime over Ukraine war, Moscow ordered the Jewish Agency branch that promotes immigration to the occupied Palestinian territories to stop its operations in Russia. Justice ministry of Russia called for dissolution of the representation office in Moscow. 

Officials of the agency confirmed that they have received the instructions of the Russian judiciary and are consulting with the Israeli foreign ministry to "find ways to solve the problem." The spokesperson for the agency pointed out the fear of the Jewish community of the order and added that they are concerned they cannot exit from Russia within the deadline. 

The Israeli minister of immigration wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Yair Lapid that this agency informed him that its activities were stopped by the direct order of the ministry of justice of Russia. The letter to Lapid suggests that this decision will have lasting effects on the possibility of Jewish immigration to Israel and others who have the right to do so under the Law of Return. This minister asked the PM to quickly intervene and remove the suspension of Jewish immigration from Russia to the occupied territories. 

The Israeli foreign ministry announced that it is investigating the details of the Russian move and is in contact with the headquarters of this organization in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) . An Israeli diplomatic source said that Russia has accused the Jewish Agency of illegally collecting information on Russian citizens. This comes as in recent weeks, Russia expanded its definition of foreign agents to include anyone who receives support from abroad and engages in actions that the authorities recognize against Russia's national interests. 

Russia's suspension of activities of the Jewish Agency comes as in recent months the Israeli leaders have condemned Russia's attacks on Ukraine and even sent Israeli mercenaries to Ukraine to fight against the Russians, angering the Kremlin officials. In other words, the action of the Russians is politically motivated and is in response to Tel Aviv's actions against them in Ukraine and also attacks in Syria. Russia and the Israeli regime have always had close ties, but the relations between the two sides have been severely strained in recent months and have even led to verbal clashes between the authorities of Moscow and Tel Aviv. The Russians are so angry with Tel Aviv that they have recently drafted a resolution to the UN Security Council to condemn Israeli attacks on Syrian territory, a move unprecedented in history of Russian-Israeli relations. 

Negative impacts on Israeli absorption of immigrants 

The Jewish Agency for Israel was established in 1929 with the aim of establishing relations between Jews around the world and the Israeli entity. It has also carried out activities for the resettlement of Jews in the occupied territories. The decision by the Kremlin to stop the activities of the Jewish Agency, which has been active in the Soviet Union and in Russia since the end of the communist period, shows the serious deterioration of relations between Tel Aviv and Moscow and may hinder the efforts of Jews to immigrate from Russia. It is said that in the last two decades, more than one million Jews have left Russia for the occupied territories, all of whom have migrated under the supervision of the Jewish Agency. 

Only after the start of the war in Ukraine, the occupied territories became one of the main destinations of the wave of Russian migrants, which included many Russian industrial workers. About 16,000 Russian citizens have registered as immigrants in Israel since the start of the war, three times more than the total of last year. Another 34,000 people have entered the occupied territories as tourists. 

The Israeli regime, which since its establishment in the past seven decades has tried to settle Jews from all over the world in the occupied territories, had been dependent on Jewish agencies for immigration in countries like Russia. 

The Jewish Agency, founded nearly a century ago as the Jewish Agency for Palestine, is the largest Jewish non-profit organization in the world. The activity of this agency was banned in the Soviet Union until the years before its collapse, but in the new Russia, its activity flourished as about one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union entered Palestine from the late 1980s to the end of the 1990s. Therefore, this agency has played an important role in increasing the population in the occupied lands. 

But now, with the action of the Kremlin, it will be practically difficult to transfer Jews to the occupied territories in the future. Naftali Bennett, the former Israeli prime minister, visited Moscow at the beginning of the war in Ukraine in order to persuade the Russian officials to send Ukrainian Jews who had lost their homes due to the war to the occupied territories. Now that Tel Aviv is subject to Russian anger, continuation of the agreements is shrouded in ambiguity. 

Driven by Israeli wars against the Palestinian groups in recent years, tens of thousands of settlers left the occupied territories. Tel Aviv leaders are struggling to make a balance with the reverse immigration by filling the place of the immigrants with the Russian and Ukrainian Jews. But tensions make this policy impossible to pursue and execute. According to figures, after collapse of the Soviet Union, the immigration from Russia to Israel grew on an annual basis. During these years, thousands annually migrated to the occupied territories but the recent rift will unravel this trend. 

At the beginning, the Israeli leaders in their inner circles welcomed the Ukraine war and called for transfer of Jews to the occupied territories, but ban on the Jewish Agency in Russia will stymie the realization of their dreams. Therefore, the Israeli population is expected to decrease with the ongoing reverse immigration in the absence of the Jewish Agency as an immigration balancing body.

Tags :

Russia Israel Jewish Agency Ukraine Crisis

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