Putin and Herzog Discuss Jewish Agency Crisis, Agree to Ongoing Dialogue

The conversation, which was conducted at the request of Prime Minister Lapid, comes amid soured relations between the two countries over the Kremlin's threats to shutter the Jewish Agency's activities in Russia

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Vladimir Putin last week.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke on Tuesday with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin amid Russian threats to potentially shut down the Jewish Agency's activities in the country, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

The presidents discussed Israeli-Russian ties and agreed that they would continue to discuss the Jewish Agency's future in further meetings.

The Kremlin published on its website that the presidents "touched on the problem of the Jewish Agency's activities in Russia. They determined that talks on the matter would continue on the ministerial level between both countries."

Based on the Kremlin's announcement, Jewish Agency officials told Haaretz they believe ongoing dialogue could potentially lead to a breakthrough.

Before becoming President, Herzog served as the Chairman of the Jewish Agency between 2018 and 2021, and was criticized by some for neglecting his duties as the head of the Agency in order to prepare his campaign for the Israeli Presidency.

The Russian Ministry of Justice asked a Russian court in July to rule on the liquidation of the Jewish Agency for Israel, claiming that it had violated Russian law during its activities in the country, according to a report by local news service Interfax.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid sent an Israeli delegation to Moscow two weeks ago to meet with Russian officials just ahead of the initial court hearing in the Jewish Agency case.

“The Jewish community in Russia is deeply connected with Israel. Its importance arises in every diplomatic discussion with the Russian leadership," Lapid said at the time. "We will continue to act through diplomatic channels so that the Jewish Agency’s important activity will not cease.”

Relations between Israel and Russia are considered to be especially sensitive: Along with the military coordination in the skies over Syria, Israel fears that exacerbating relations between the two will lead Moscow to block the possibility of the some 600,000 members of the country’s Jewish community, who are eligible to make aliyah to Israel under the Law of Return, from doing so.

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