Russia has granted an Israeli request to postpone by a month a court hearing that could lead to the closure of Jewish Agency offices in the country, Israel Hayom reported.
“We asked to postpone in order to modify the activities of the Anu association, which consolidates the agency’s activities in Russia, so that it would conform to the local law,” said an Israeli political source involved in the matter.
He added that the Russian’s seemingly positive response may be an “indication that they are open to the idea of the agency continuing its activities in the country.”
Although Israel maintained for months that Russia’s threat to close down the agency stemmed from Jerusalem’s support for Ukraine, the source said that Moscow has closed dozens if not hundreds of civil society organizations affiliated with the West.
“Apparently, the Kremlin issued a sweeping directive on the matter, and its executives believed that it also applied to the Jewish Agency—without understanding the unique nature of its activity and its extraordinary importance to Israel. The current conduct of the Russians could indicate they’re trying to correct the mistake without admitting it,” the source said.
The Russian Justice Ministry in July sent a letter to the Jewish Agency outlining demands that created the legal basis for an initial hearing. The request to cease the organization’s operations was made to the Basmanny District Court, alleging “legal violations.”
The Jewish Agency is a nonprofit that works closely with the Israeli government to bring Jewish immigrants from around the world to Israel. The agency has been active in Russia since 1989 and has helped more than a million persons from the former Soviet Union immigrate to Israel.
An estimated 150,000 Jews live in Russia today.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid previously warned that shuttering the agency’s offices in Russia could have “a serious impact” on diplomatic relations between Jerusalem and Moscow.