The agency that processes immigration of Jews to Israel has started making preparations for its possible closure in Russia, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.
In a move that drew swift blowback from Israel, Russia’s Justice Ministry last month requested the “dissolution” of the Jewish Agency, citing unspecified legal violations.
“The Jewish Agency will operate all of its work on aliyah [repatriation] from Israel, online or by phone,” a senior source close to the Jewish Agency told The Jerusalem Post.
“We’re examining all the options for a rainy day,” one Jewish Agency official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Times of Israel.
The Jewish Agency has approximately 200 employees in Russia, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Because the agency provides assistance to Jews who wish to immigrate to Israel, a decision also known as making aliyah, its closure could impact thousands of Russian Jews seeking to repatriate to Israel.
The organization also operates Sunday schools and supports local Jewish communities across the country.
Earlier this week, Israeli President Isaac Herzog raised the issue of the Jewish Agency directly with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and the two agreed to continue discussing the matter.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned that Moscow shuttering the Jewish Agency would have “consequences” for ties between the countries.
The Kremlin has warned against “politicizing” the agency’s possible closure.
But observers say the Justice Ministry's request could be seen as a warning to Israel's prime minister, who has taken a tougher rhetorical line over Moscow's war in Ukraine than his predecessor.