Russia’s Threats to Close the Jewish Agency Hurt Israel

The Jerusalem-based Jewish Agency for Israel encourages and assists Jews, both logistically and financially, who may one day want to emigrate to Israel. Under the Israeli “Law of Return”, anyone who is Jewish or can prove that they have at least one Jewish grandparent is eligible for Israeli citizenship.

Thousands of Ukrainian and Russian Jewish immigrants have moved to Israel since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, highlighting the special role the organization can play during a war.

Russian news outlets report that Russian authorities accuse the agency of alleged violations of local laws, including those related to collecting data on Russian citizens. On Thursday, a Russian court will hold a hearing on the demand of the Russian government to terminate the organization’s activities in the country.

In their public statements, Jerusalem Agency Headquarters only confirmed that the hearing will take place on Thursday and that they “will not comment during the trial.”

At first, the situation seemed to be approaching the point of a diplomatic crisis, as Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned earlier this week that an attempt to dissolve the Russian branch of the agency “would be a major event that would affect relations” with Russia.

On Lapid’s instructions and in agreement with the Russian authorities, an Israeli delegation will travel to Moscow on Wednesday evening and hold meetings with relevant parties in Russia, the Israeli government confirmed.

This was reported by the Jerusalem Post in early July. that the Jewish Agency has been under investigation by Russian officials for the past three years. Russian officials formally demanded the agency cease operations in Russia just weeks after Lapid replaced Naftali Bennett as acting prime minister.

In his previous post as foreign minister, Lapid was one of the most outspoken Israeli leaders to criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on a Russian talk show on Tuesday that Israel has taken a “pro-Ukrainian” and “biased” stance towards Ukraine in recent months.

But after days of escalating tensions, a pair of statements by Lapid and Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov is seen as a way to ease the pressure by focusing on “legal” aspects.

“This situation needs to be treated very carefully,” Peskov said. according to the Russian state news agency TASS.. “Indeed, there are questions for the Jewish Agency for Israel in terms of compliance with Russian legislation, and this situation should not be politicized or projected onto the entire complex of Russian-Israeli relations,” he added.

Shortly after Peskov’s comments, a spokesman for Lapid responded, “Should legal issues arise related to the important activities of the Jewish Agency in Russia, Israel is, as always, ready to engage in dialogue while maintaining important relations between the countries.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who headed the Jewish Agency from 2018 to 2021, also appeared to slow down on Tuesday, telling a conference hosted by Israeli news channel 13: “The less we talk about it and the more we do, the better. ”

“Russia is an important country. There could be many different scenarios and explanations for why and how this happened,” he added.

On Tuesday, Lapid’s office released correspondence between Vladimir Putin and Israel’s new prime minister, when the latter took office four weeks ago.

In a letter sent through the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv, Putin congratulated Lapid on taking office, adding that “Russian-Israeli relations are traditionally friendly.”

In response, Lapid said that relations between Russia and Israel have “deep roots”.

After the invasion, Israel was fulfillment of the diplomatic balance in relations with Moscow.
Although he has officially condemned the invasion and regularly sends aid to Ukraine, Israel has yet to send weapons to the Ukrainians and has been criticized for don’t be stronger in his criticism of Russia.
However, at the regional level, Israel does not want to upset Russia when the Israeli Air Force want to hit targets in Syria. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against its neighbor in recent years, mostly aimed at disrupting Iran’s supply of precision-guided missile technology to Hezbollah. Ever since Russia entered the war in Syria in 2015, Israel has needed Moscow’s tacit approval to carry out such attacks.

Digest

“We don’t know what’s going on” with Iran’s nuclear program, the UN said.

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, told CNN that the organization has no information on whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

  • Background: When it comes to uranium enrichment in Tehran, “the problem is that you have all these activities going on. We don’t have visibility. We don’t know what’s going on,” said the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). IAEA) Sarah Sidner of CNN said in an interview Monday. In June, Iran began dismantling virtually all IAEA equipment installed under the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including 27 cameras. A key tenet of the now-defunct deal was that the IAEA could independently control Iran’s nuclear program.
  • Why is it important: The Biden White House has been working to revive the JCPOA deal, but U.S. Iran Special Envoy Rob Malley told CNN last week that the window for the deal is “closing pretty quickly.” Grossi told CNN he believes the space for an agreement is “narrowing”.

Turkey still expects Sweden to extradite Kurds in exchange for NATO approval

Turkey is “still awaiting the extradition or expulsion from Sweden of people associated with the PKK, PYD/YPG” and the ratification of Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO applications will depend on “what action they take,” a Turkish presidential spokesman said. Ibrahim Kalin told CNN on Monday.

  • Background: Speaking to CNN’s Becky Anderson, Kalin said the agreement between Turkey and the Nordic countries set out “specific conditions” including “taking steps to address Turkey’s security concerns.” Asked if the extradition of suspected Kurdish fighters is a condition for ratifying NATO membership applications, Kalin said Turkey “made it very clear from the beginning” that such conditions must be met. Erdogan accused the two countries of harboring members of the militant separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK, which seeks an independent Kurdish state and has been fighting Turkey for decades.
  • Why is it important: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week renewed his threat to “freeze” Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO after conditionally agreeing to green-light their bid after talks with Nordic and NATO members in late June.

Iran sees a sixfold increase in oil revenues

Iran increased its revenue from oil and condensate exports by 580% compared to the same period last year. This was reported by the semi-official news agency Tasnim.This was stated by Iranian Economy Minister Ehsan Khandouzi.
  • Background: The six-fold increase occurred in the first four months of the Iranian year (March 21 to July 22), Tasnim reported. Earlier this year, Iran’s central bank governor said the country had restored oil production to pre-sanction levels, Tasnim added.
  • Why is it important: Negotiations between Tehran and world powers to restart the 2015 nuclear deal in exchange for lifting sanctions have stalled since March. Iran’s economy is still under pressure, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February caused precious Russian oil to disappear from the Western market. Today, Russia and Iran compete for discounted barrels in the Asian market, a key lifeline for the Iranian oil industry.

What to watch

After Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul promising to release millions of tons of seized Ukrainian grain, the question now lies in the implementation of the agreement.

International correspondent Nick Robertson, who spoke with Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, told CNN’s Becky Anderson what to expect next.

See the report here:

By region

How much money do you think you could make playing popular video games like Fortnite or Rocket League? What does 15 million dollars sound like?

This is a prize pool offered in a number of tournaments this summer for experienced players at the Gamers8 Esports event in Saudi Arabia, with a free Fortnite game on the menu this week.

But it’s not like front-row tickets to see the world’s best gamers will set you back $50 on Riyadh Boulevard, an open area of ​​shopping, entertainment and fine dining dubbed Saudi Times Square. Some of the most popular games in the world are featured, including the aforementioned Fortnite and Rocket League, as well as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege and PUBG mobile game.

This week’s Fortnite competition is one of the biggest, with 44 two-man teams battling it out for a $2 million prize. Huge amounts of cash are already up for grabs in other tournaments, with individual players winning $25,000 each for special achievement rewards and teams taking home up to $1.5 million for victory in furious digital battles.
Video games are extremely popular in Saudi Arabia, where 21.1 million played them in 2020according to Intenta Digital, a gambling addiction research company, and in the same year, the industry generated over $1 billion in revenue in the Gulf country.

Eoin McSweeney

Photo of the day

Yemeni demonstrators hold a portrait of UN special envoy Hans Grundberg during a protest demanding an end to a years-long blockade of territory imposed by Yemeni Houthi rebels in the city of Taiz July 26.  Taiz, which has a population of about 600,000 people.  people, have been largely cut off from the world since 2015, hundreds of thousands of people suffer from malnutrition.