Russia’s threats to close the Jewish Agency strike a nerve in Israel

The Jerusalem-based Jewish Agency of Israel encourages and assists Jews, both logistically and financially, who may wish to immigrate to Israel one day. Under Israel’s Law of Return, any Jewish person is entitled or can demonstrate that he or she has at least one Jewish grandfather to obtain Israeli citizenship.

Thousands of Ukrainian and Russian Jewish immigrants have moved to Israel since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, underscoring the special role the organization can play in wartime.

Russian media have reported that the authorities in Russia are accusing the agency of alleged violations of local laws, including those related to the data collection of Russian citizens. On Thursday, a Russian court will hold a hearing on the Russian government’s request to dissolve the organization’s operations in the country.

In public statements, only the headquarters of the Jerusalem Agency confirmed that the hearing will take place on Thursday, and that they “will not be suspended during the legal process.”

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

The Israeli government confirmed, under the direction of Lapid and in coordination with the authorities in Russia, that an Israeli delegation will leave for Moscow on Wednesday evening and hold meetings with the relevant parties in Russia.

The Jerusalem Post reported in early July that the Jewish Agency had been under investigation by Russian officials for the past three years. Russian officials formally asked the agency to cease its Russian operations just weeks after Lapid took over as interim prime minister from Naftali Bennett.

In his previous position as foreign minister, Lapid was one of the most vocal Israeli leaders in criticizing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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

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

“This situation must be approached with extreme caution,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency TASS. “In fact, there are questions for the Jewish Agency of Israel from the point of view of compliance with Russian legislation and this situation should not be politicized or presented to the entirety of Russian-Israeli relations,” he added.

Shortly after Peskov’s remarks, Lapid’s spokesman replied: “If there are legal issues that arise in connection with the important activity of the Jewish Agency in Russia, Israel, as always, is ready and ready to engage in dialogue while preserving important relations between countries.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who headed the Jewish Agency from 2018 to 2021, also appeared to drop the call on Tuesday, saying at a conference held by Israel News Channel 13, “The less we talk about it and the more we do, the better.”

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

On Tuesday, Lapid’s office announced an exchange of letters between Vladimir Putin and the new Israeli prime minister when the latter took office four weeks ago, in which the language was cordial.

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

In response, Lapid said relations between Russia and Israel were “deeply rooted.”

Since the invasion, Israel has been making a diplomatic balancing act in relations with Moscow.
Although it formally condemned the invasion and sent regular aid to Ukraine, Israel had not yet sent Ukrainian arms, and was criticized for not being more strident in its criticism of Russia.
Regionally, however, Israel does not want to provoke Russia’s wrath when the Israeli Air Force looks to strike targets in Syria. Israel has launched hundreds of strikes on its neighbor in recent years, most of them aimed at disrupting Iran’s supply of precision-guided missile technology to Hezbollah. Since Russia entered the Syrian war in 2015, Israel has needed Moscow’s tacit approval to carry out such attacks.


“We don’t know what’s going on” about Iran’s nuclear programme, says the UN watchdog

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, told CNN that the organization had no knowledge of whether Iran was developing a nuclear weapon.

  • background: When it comes to uranium enrichment in Tehran, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency said: “The issue is that you have all these activities going on. And we don’t have a clear vision. We don’t know what’s going on.” International Atomic Energy Agency) told CNN correspondent Sarah Seidner in an interview on Monday. In June, Iran began removing all IAEA equipment installed under the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including 27 cameras. One of the basic tenets of the now-obsolete deal was that the IAEA could independently monitor Iran’s nuclear program.
  • why does it matter: The Biden White House is working to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement, but US special envoy for Iran Rob Malley told CNN last week that the deal window was “closing very quickly.” Grossi told CNN he thinks the area of ​​agreement is “dwindling.”

Turkey still expects Sweden to hand over the Kurds in exchange for NATO approval

Turkey “still expects to extradite or expel people linked to the PKK and PYD/YPG from Sweden” and ratification of Sweden and Finland’s NATO requests will depend on “what kind of action it will take,” Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told CNN. Monday.

  • background: Speaking to CNN’s Becky Anderson, Kalin said the agreement between Turkey and the Nordic countries set “specific terms” that include “taking steps to address Turkey’s security concerns.” Asked whether handing over suspected Kurdish militants was a condition for the approval of NATO membership bids, Kalin said Turkey had made it clear “from the start” that such conditions had to be met. Erdogan accused the two countries of harboring members of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which seeks to establish an independent Kurdish state and has been locked in an armed conflict with Turkey for decades.
  • why does it matter: Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his threat to “process” NATO membership for Sweden and Finland after conditionally agreeing to give the green light to their bid after negotiations with Nordic countries and NATO members in late June.

Iran records a sixfold increase in oil revenues

The semi-official Tasnim news agency, quoting Iranian Economy Minister Ehsan Khandozi, reported that Iran has increased its oil and condensate export revenues by 580% compared to the same period last year.
  • background: The sixfold increase occurred in the first four months of the Iranian year (from March 21 to July 22), Tasnim news agency reported. Tasneem added that the governor of the Central Bank of Iran said earlier this year that the country had restored its oil production to pre-sanctions levels.
  • why does it matter: Talks between Tehran and world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear deal in exchange for the lifting of sanctions have stalled since March. Iran’s economy continues to collapse, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has begun to dislodge precious Russian oil from the Western market. Today, Russia and Iran are competing with discounted barrels in the Asian market, which are a major lifeline for the Iranian oil industry.

what do you want to watch

After Russia and Ukraine signed a deal in Istanbul pledging to release millions of tons of blockaded Ukrainian grain, questions now lie in implementing the deal.

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

Watch the report here:

About the area

How much money do you think you can earn playing popular video games like Fortnite or Rocket League? What does 15 million dollars look like?

This is the prize on offer across a number of tournaments this summer for skilled players at the Gamers8 Esports event in Saudi Arabia, with free Fortnite on the list this week.

But the viewing is just that – front row tickets to see the world’s best players will cost you $50 on Riyadh Boulevard, a shopping, entertainment and fine dining area dubbed Saudi Arabia’s Times Square. Some of the world’s most popular games are featured, including the aforementioned Fortnite and Rocket League, as well as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege and the mobile game PUBG.

This week’s Fortnite competition is one of the biggest in the event, with 44 teams of two competing for the $2 million prize. Huge amounts of cash are already being distributed across other tournaments, with individual players winning $25,000 in special achievement prizes, while teams taking back home $1.5 million To get out to the top of frantic digital battles.
Video games are very popular in Saudi Arabia, with 21.1 million people playing them in 2020, according to Intenta Digital, a game addiction research firm, and the industry generated more than $1 billion in revenue in the Gulf country in the same year.

by Eoin McSweeney

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