Israel pressured to join in sanctions of Jewish oligarchs

Israel Jewish oligarchs sanctions
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Israel pressured to join in sanctions of Jewish oligarchs

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel is grappling with how to deal with dozens of Jewish Russian oligarchs as Western nations step up sanctions on businesspeople with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A worried Israeli government has formed a high-level committee to see how the country can maintain its status as a haven for any Jew without running afoul of the biting sanctions targeting Putin’s inner circle.

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“Israel will not be a route to bypass sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and other Western countries,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid declared Monday during a stop in Slovakia.

Several dozen Jewish tycoons from Russia are believed to have taken on Israeli citizenship or residency in recent years. Many have good working relations with the Kremlin, and at least four — Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and Viktor Vekselberg — have been sanctioned internationally because of their purported connections to Putin. Some of the sanctions stretch back even to before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month.

Israel, which has emerged as an unlikely mediator between Ukraine and Russia, has not joined the sanctions imposed by the U.S., Britain, European Union and others. But as the war in Ukraine drags on, and other names are added to the list, the pressure is increasing.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 TV station over the weekend, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, Victoria Nuland, called on Israel to join the group of countries that have sanctioned Russia.

“What we are asking among other things is for every democracy around the world to join us in the financial and export control sanctions that we have put on Putin,” she said. “You don’t want to become the last haven for dirty money that’s fueling Putin’s wars.”

Aaron David Miller, a now-retired veteran U.S. diplomat, said on Twitter that Nuland’s comments were the “toughest battering of Israeli policy since crisis began or of any policy in very long while.”

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Israel, founded as a haven for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust, grants automatic citizenship to anyone of Jewish descent. Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union 30 years ago, an estimated 1 million Jews from Russia and other former Soviet republics have moved to Israel. In recent years, a growing number of tycoons from the former Soviet Union have joined them.

As Ukraine war rages, Israel grapples with fate of oligarchs  The Associated Press – en Español

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