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Russia announces opening of consulate in West Jerusalem | News

Israel welcomed the decision to call the move a diplomatic achievement in line with its efforts to increase the number of foreign missions in West Jerusalem.

The Russian embassy in Israel will open an office in West Jerusalem to service its consular section as part of an agreement with the city, according to the embassy and Israel’s foreign ministry.

The Russian embassy in Israel said in a statement that after a years-long process, an agreement was signed with the municipality on May 18 for the land parcel in West Jerusalem, which Russia bought in 1885.

As part of the agreement, the property will be used to construct buildings for the consular section of the embassy, ​​the statement said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen welcomed the agreement, which the ministry called a diplomatic achievement in line with its efforts to increase the number of foreign missions in Jerusalem.

Russia plans to build the complex within five to 10 years, said Anatoly Viktorov, the ambassador to Israel, adding that the agreement “takes into account the interests of our two countries”.

The status of Jerusalem – home to holy places for Christians, Jews and Muslims – is one of the biggest obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel, which captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War and later annexed it, considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital. The Palestinian Authority (PA) insists that East Jerusalem – illegally occupied by Israel since 1967 – should be the capital of a Palestinian state.

The international community mostly does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the entire city, arguing that Jerusalem’s status should be resolved through negotiations.

While most foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv, four embassies opened in Jerusalem after former U.S. President Donald Trump announced in December 2017 that the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In May of the following year, the United States moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed grave concern, saying “such steps could obliterate the prospects for the Middle East peace process”.

However, the Russian embassy’s statement on Friday said opening a branch in Jerusalem “is in line with our country’s unchanging approach to a fair settlement of Middle East issues.”

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority had no immediate comment on the Israeli-Russian deal.

Relations between Israel and Russia have been strained since Moscow invaded Ukraine last February.

About 15% of the population are immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

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