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Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid Warns Cabinet Against Helping Russian Oligarchs

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Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a bilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, U.S., October 13, 2021. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

i24 News – Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday called on government officials not to provide any assistance to Russian Jewish oligarchs already under international sanctions or who may be in the future, Walla! News reported Monday, citing three ministers who attended the cabinet meeting.

Oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin are among the main targets of US and European sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Many of them have assets, bank accounts and businesses in Israel, the news site said.

On Saturday, a White House official told a briefing that the United States and its allies were forming a task force to identify, track down and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs.

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Lapid’s warnings come after reports that Israeli institutions, including the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Tel Aviv University, approached Tom Nides, the US ambassador to Israel, asking the US not to sanction Roman Abramovich — owner of Premier League football club Chelsea.

“You have to be very careful because these people have connections and they can call you on the phone and ask you things,” Lapid said during the cabinet meeting, according to the ministers quoted by Walla! News.

“Don’t commit to anything as it could cause diplomatic incidents. Say you can’t help them and give them the Foreign Office number,” he added.

The top diplomat told the cabinet that so far Israel has received no request from the United States or the European Union to join international sanctions against Russia.

But senior Israeli officials told the site that Israel will have no choice but to apply the sanctions in order to avoid being targeted in turn.

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