Dr Mike Evans

Israel’s President Herzog speaks with Putin by phone concerning Jewish Agency’s future

Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding concerns that the Jewish Agency in Russia will be shut down.

Russia has scheduled an upcoming court date to determine the future of the agency’s operation in its nation. Herzog, who previously served as chairman of the Jewish Agency, sought to reconcile differences that have arisen following Israel’s criticisms of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Jewish Agency remains a central part of helping Russian Jews who wish to return to the Jewish homeland of Israel to make Aliyah. Established in 1928, the agency held a strong role in the creation of modern Israel in 1948.

The agency also began operations in 1989 to help Jews leave the then-Soviet Union to return to Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Jews are indebted to the agency’s assistance in helping them return to the Jewish homeland.

“The phone call was frank and honest. The two leaders emphasized the important areas of cooperation between Israel and Russia and agreed to remain in contact,” Herzog said in a statement following the call between the two leaders.

Herzog’s statement added that Putin “underscored his personal commitment to Holocaust commemoration and the fight against antisemitism.”

The call was reportedly made following a request by Prime Minister Yair Lapid alongside the assistance of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

In addition to the call between Herzog and Putin, Israel sent a delegation last week to Moscow to discuss the situation regarding the Jewish Agency. No progress was reportedly made as a result of the trip.

The Aug. 19 court date is expected to further address the legal implications of the situation in Moscow. However, Israeli officials do not expect a fair trial and are seeking to improve the situation ahead of the court hearing if possible.