Photo Credit: GPO
Prime Minister Yair Lapid. July 2, 2022

Tensions are rising between Israel and Russia, with Prime Minister Yair Lapid ordering the Foreign Ministry on Sunday to prepare a list of possible responses if Moscow goes ahead with its threat to close the Jewish Agency.

The decision followed a meeting on the situation held by Lapid earlier in the day together with Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano Shata, Minister of Construction and Housing Zeev Elkin, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Na’ama Schultz, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Alon Ushpiz, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Director General for Eurasia, Deputy Director of the National Security Council and the National Security Council Foreign Policy Director, as well as Jewish Agency CEO and Director-General Amira Ahronoviz, and WZO Chairman Yaakov Hagoel.


Lapid Chairs Meeting on Jewish Agency’s Woes in Russia Caused by His ‘Brave’ Stance

The move comes in response to an order by a Russian court to dissolve the Jewish Agency branch in the country.

Last week in response to the news, Lapid instructed legal experts from several ministries to prepare to fly to Russia “on a moment’s notice” for talks on the matter.

Israeli Delegation Will Go to Moscow to Defend Jewish Agency

But Russia has not yet agreed to such talks and has not authorized the arrival of any Israeli delegation. More ominously, such agreement may not be forthcoming.

As a result, the Israeli delegation that was preparing to fly to Moscow to resolve the issue has instead been put on hold.

Jewish Agency spokesperson Hagit Halali told reporters this weekend that a Russian court hearing on the matter is set to take place this Thursday.

In the meantime, Lapid is considering a range of responses if Russia does indeed force the closure of the Jewish Agency, which helps Russian Jewry and which serves as the conduit for their immigration to the State of Israel.

According to sources involved in the meeting with the prime minister quoted by Israel’s Channels 12 and 13, potential responses to such a decision might include:

  • further delay in the transfer of Alexander’s Courtyard to Russia (in Jerusalem)
  • providing additional assistance to Ukraine
  • and recalling Israel’s ambassador to Moscow for “consultations.

There are numerous reasons why Russia may be taking this action, all of them political.

Back in March, then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was gingerly trying to balance quiet support for Ukraine with Israel’s need to maintain its positive ties with Moscow, which controls the skies — and Iran’s military activities — in nearby Syria. Bennett deliberately held back from offensive statements that could upset the delicate diplomatic tightrope he was walking.

But not so his foreign minister and alternate prime minister, Yair Lapid, who rashly told reporters during a trip to Romania, “Israel, like Romania, condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It has no justification, and we call on Russia to stop the firing and the assaults and resolve the issues around the negotiating table.

“Israel will help as much as it can to reach a peaceful solution. We are working in full coordination with our ally, the US, and with our European partners to try to end this violent tragedy as soon as possible.”

Following that faux pas, Russia began cracking down on Israeli military operations to keep the Iranian threat in Syria at bay, condemning Israeli air strikes on military targets in Syrian territory and demanding that Israel cease its operations.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleIndependent Arab List Sponsored by Fatah Running in Jerusalem Municipality Elections
Next articleIsrael’s High-Tech Sector Slashing Jobs
Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.