Israel advertises for recruits in Moscow

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ISRAEL IS preparing a no- expense-spared campaign to persuade hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews to emigrate there.

The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in a pre-Jewish New Year interview with the Jewish Chronicle, said the economic turmoil engulfing Russia presented Israel with a "unique" opportunity to revive large-scale migration from it.

Israel was taking the initiative rather than tactfully waiting for the Jews to go. A ministerial committee was already busy drafting programmes. Mr Netanyahu said: "We decided that any programmes recommended by the committee and approved by the cabinet to induce, promote, and encourage massive immigration will receive all the funding they require, budgetary constraints notwithstanding.

"The reason is simple. It's what we are here for: the ingathering of the exiles. Having renewed Jewish sovereignty in the land of the Jews, we want to bring Jews to Eretz Yisrael."

The Israeli leader dismissed fears that Russia's new prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov, a Middle East expert with an "Arabist" reputation, would turn Russian policy against Israel. He said the two countries had an excellent relationship, except for one problem.

"We expect Russia to take action against the leakage of Russian technology, ballistic, nuclear and other technology, to Iran and other such regimes. Israel and Russia have a common interest to see the development of peace in our region."

Mr Netanyahu also said he was determined to move ahead with additional Israel redeployments on the West Bank, so long as the Palestinians kept to their side of the deal.

He said that Israel would be prepared to withdraw from a further 13 per cent of the territory - in three phases over three months.