Russian court considers Jewish Agency liquidation lawsuit

Members of the Israeli delegation sent for talks in Moscow will meet with officials from Russia’s Justice Ministry on Thursday.

 RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin speaks at the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, 2020. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin speaks at the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, 2020.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Moscow’s Basmanny Court began considering a lawsuit on Thursday filed by the Russian Justice Ministry on the liquidation of the Jewish Agency office in Russia.

The court hearing was set for August 19, and Thursday’s session that was considered a preliminary hearing and pre-trial verification ended without any decision made. A source in the agency explained that it was a “very technical issue,” yet “our lawyer was able to speak and make our case.”

Shortly before the court session, the Israeli delegation of ministry legal advisers and senior officials from government ministries and the Jewish Agency arrived in Moscow to assist the Agency’s attorneys, even though they do not speak Russian and have no basic understanding of the Russian law system.

The Jerusalem Post has learned that members of the delegation, headed by Tamar Kaplan, Foreign Ministry deputy legal adviser, will meet with officials from Russia’s Justice Ministry on Thursday. Members of the delegation include David Goldfarb, director of the Department of Diplomatic and Civil Law, Foreign Ministry, Roi Cohen, assistant legal adviser to the government, Dror Offen, chief of staff of the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, Michal Shetrit, legal adviser to the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, and Reuven Eidelman, legal adviser to the Authority for the Protection of Privacy.

Representing the agency is Shay Felber, director-general of the Jewish Agency Integration and Aliyah Unit.

The Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)The Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

“A preliminary hearing took place in Moscow Thursday morning in the case concerning the association operated by The Jewish Agency for Israel in Russia,” the agency said afterward. “It was determined that a trial will take place on August 19. The association will then present its arguments on said date.”

Yaakov Hagoel, acting chairman of the Jewish Agency, said that the Jewish Agency “plays a critical role in cultivating Jewish identity and establishing a connection to Israel for Jews all over the world. “Its vital activities that serve the Jewish communities in Russia will continue in order to ensure the community thrives and remains connected to their heritage and the State of Israel.”

Liberman: Case will be settled soon

Earlier on Thursday, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said in an interview on Kan Radio that he hopes that “we’ll be able to settle this case soon. From the point of view of the Russians, and it may be a mistake... In their perception, the Jewish Agency is an American organization.”

A native of Moldova, Liberman said the Russians “treat the Agency similar to the way that they try to challenge many foreign international organizations.”

Pnina Tamano-Shata, Aliyah and Integration minister, said that Thursday’s hearing and the hearing set for August 19 “have made it clear that the issue is legal and not bound up in any political debate – as I have mentioned all along. The issue of Jewish immigration is not an object for political bargaining, and it is a basic right that exists for all the Jews of the world, as well as the Jewish community in Russia. The Russian authorities have respected this for decades and it will remain so.

“The Israeli government is giving the Jewish Agency the necessary legal framework to deal with the allegations raised by the Russian Justice Ministry, and I am sure that the matter will be clarified soon, even if some adjustments are required. We are prepared for that.”