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Jewish Agency ready to close its doors in Russia, operate online

A picture shows a sign at the entrance to the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) office in Moscow on July 28, 2022. - A Moscow court July 28, 2022 held a preliminary hearing on closing the Russian branch of Israel's Jewish Agency, amid warnings from Tel Aviv that the move would have "serious" consequences on relations between the two countries. In a surprise move, a Moscow court said last week that the justice ministry had requested the "dissolution" of the Jewish Agency because of unspecified legal violations. The agency, established in 1929, has had offices in Russia since 1989 and processes Jewish immigration to Israel. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)
A picture shows a sign at the entrance to the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) office in Moscow on July 28, 2022 [KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images]

The Jewish Agency might end its physical presence in Russia and start working online and via telephone, a senior official was reported by Israeli media saying yesterday.

A meeting took place at the agency's headquarters in Jerusalem yesterday to discuss how to move the operation from Russia to Israel.

"We are examining all the options for a rainy day," the Times of Israel reported a Jewish Agency official saying, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The trial could go both ways: shut down, or staying under tightened regulation," he said. "But we are certainly not going to leave if we can help it."

READ: Why did Moscow shut down the Jewish Agency office?

A source told the Jerusalem Post: "The Jewish Agency will operate all of its work on aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) from Israel, online or by phone. The problem is that there will be no way to encourage aliyah from Russia."

It will also not be able to operate any physical philanthropist activities in Russia "but will fund local activities or send temporary educators from Israel to assist with Jewish life."

A senior official said: "The Agency has no intention of closing down its activities and leaving Russia. We will adapt ourselves to the requirements of Russian law and operate within its framework, but we will continue to be present and operate in Russia, as far as this is legally possible for us."

A court hearing was set for 19 August, during which the judges may ban the agency's activity, as recommended by the Justice Ministry more than a month ago.

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