Israel supports removing Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions from Russia

Israel supports removing Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions from Russia

Original amendment penalized former Soviet Union for restrictive emigration policies, which affected many Jews

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel endorsed removing Russia from Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions.

“Israel supports Russia’s graduation from Jackson-Vanik,” a senior Israeli official told JTA this week. “The reasons Russia is included in Jackson-Vanik are no longer relevant.”

The official made the comment in the wake of a bill introduced in the US Senate earlier this week by a bipartisan slate of senators that would find Russia “in full compliance with the freedom of emigration requirements” of the law.

The original amendment, named for the late US Sen. Henry Jackson (D-Wash.) and the late US Rep. Charles Vanik (D-Ohio) was passed in the early 1970s — over the strident objections of the Nixon administration — at a time when the former Soviet Union was inhibiting Jewish emigration.

Russia wants the 1970s-era restrictions on trade lifted to facilitate its joining the World Trade Organization. The WTO in November invited Russia to join.

NCSJ: Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia also back the repeal bill.

“Russia has satisfied the central requirement of the amendment’s intent: the right to emigrate,” National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) Chairman Richard Stone said in a statement. “Jews are able to decide to emigrate or to choose to remain in Russia, where they can practice Judaism and participate in Jewish culture without reservation.”

A number of human rights groups oppose lifting Jackson-Vanik. Legislation is under consideration in the US House of Representatives that would sanction officials implicated in human rights abuse.

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