10/06/2022, 13.29
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Israel to vet whether to extend the Law of Return to fourth generation of Russian Jews

Such a step would help people trying to avoid Putin's call-up for war in Ukraine. Avigodor Lieberman sees the proposal as a temporary measure, which the cabinet is currently examining. Some Israeli lawmakers oppose it accusing the Finance Minister of "destroying" the country’s Jewish identity.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Israeli government is considering extending the Law of Return to fourth-generation descendants of Russian Jews trying to flee from Vladimir Putin's mass call-up of reservists for the war in Ukraine.

Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the government is vetting the proposal, adding that it could be a temporary measure.

According to the Times of Israel, Lieberman raised the issue during the cabinet’s weekly meeting on Sunday, arguing that the fourth generation could somehow be eligible to citizenship.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that the issue would be further addressed at an in-depth inter-ministry discussion. 

On Twitter, Lieberman said that citizenship would not be automatic, “but rather to treat them (Russian Jews) on the basis of our historical obligation to humanitarian and Jewish values.”

“The Jewish people experienced no shortage of tragedies and misery in the Second World War, which was at a time when no country accepted Jewish refugees.

“This is the fourth generation, the offspring of Jews who have a clear link to Judaism and a direct connection to their families living in Israel."

The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, promulgated the Law of Return on 5 July 1950, along with the Citizenship Law.

It repealed the so-called White Paper and offers citizenship to people of Jewish descent in the world, who intend to move to Israel and live in the country. Depending on the age, this would require undergoing military service (three years for men and two for women).

The Finance Minister's proposal, however, is opposed by some Knesset members. Zionist MK Simcha Rothman tweeted that “The Law of Return was enacted so that Israel would be a Jewish state," while “Lieberman is working on destroying Israel's Jewish identity."

To exercise the right to return, applicants must have at least one Jewish grandparent.

According to an Israeli source who spoke to the Jerusalem Post, at least 55,000 eligible Russian Jews are waiting for the green light to leave Russia for Israel. About 40,000 have visas, while another 15,000 have started the process.

Another 70,000 Russian Jews would be eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return but are currently living in extremely difficult conditions in Russia’s neighbours but are not in contact with the Israeli authorities.

The issue recently arose with Ukrainian refugees and the possible repercussions for the "Jewish identity" of the State of Israel.

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