In Brief: Israel considers law of return reform for Russians fleeing draft

File:Avigdor Lieberman 2017.jpg

Avigdor Lieberman > Jim Mattis, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Israel’s government will this week debate broadening its Law of Return to make it easier for Russian draft dodgers to make Aliyah.

In the month since Vladimir Putin announced a call up of reservists, some 6,500 Russian citizens have arrived at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport, according to Interior Ministry data.

Israel’s Soviet-born finance minister Avigdor Lieberman has proposed an extension of the right to emigrate to Israel to anyone with a Jewish great-grandparent.

Israeli law currently allows only those with Jewish grandparents to claim citizenship.

Lieberman suggested that the expansion could be a temporary measure within a £22 million plan to help Russian and Ukrainian Jews integrate into society.

Some 24,000 Russian Jews have already received immigration vias since the start of the war, while another 15,000 are in the process of Aliyah, the Jerusalem Post has reported.

Israel is also reportedly exploring how to help Russian Jews travel to countries neighbouring Russia such as Georgia or Azerbaijan, from which they could then travel on to the Jewish state.

Speaking to the Jewish Chronicle in August, Jewish Agency chair and former Soviet citizen Natan Sharansky urged Russian Jews to flee while they could: “Without doubt, the moment the regime becomes more and more totalitarian, they will be looking for more and more internal enemies”.