Russian Court Delays Hearing on Closing Jewish Agency for Israel
A court in Russia delayed a hearing on a case to close the Jewish Agency for Israel on Friday, the day the case was supposed to be heard. The new hearing date in Basmanny Court in Moscow will be held on September 19, according to reports in the Russian and Israeli media. The delay came after lawyers for the Jewish Agency asked for extra time to study new documents and evidence provided by the Russian Justice Ministry. Meanwhile, Israel has asked Russian officials for a mediation process, something the Russians have rejected.
The move against the agency follows criticism by Israel of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Israel’s then-Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accused Moscow in April of committing war crimes. Lapid became caretaker prime minister of Israel on July 1.
Russia’s Justice Ministry last month requested to liquidate the Jewish Agency’s branch, saying that the group was illegally gathering information about Russian citizens. The Jewish Agency is a quasi-governmental Israeli organization that supports Jewish communal, educational, and welfare programs in Russia and helps facilitate immigration for Russian Jews interested in living in the Jewish state.
As of 2019, an estimated 165,000 Jews lived in Russia. Approximately 1.3 million Russian speakers, most of them Jews who immigrated from Russia, now live in Israel.