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Russia to open consular section offices in Jerusalem -statement

russian president vladimir putin attends a meeting with families awarded the order of parental glory, via video link in moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russia’s embassy in Israel will open offices in Jerusalem to serve its consular section as part of an agreement with the city, the embassy and Israel’s foreign ministry said on Friday.

The Russian embassy in Israel said in a statement that a deal over a West Jerusalem land plot, which Russia purchased in 1885, was signed with the municipality on May 18, following a years-long process. As part of the agreement, the property will be used to construct buildings to be used by the consular section of the embassy, the statement said.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen welcomed the agreement, which the ministry said was 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 ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov, who added that the deal “takes into account the interests of both our states”.

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

Israel, which occupied East Jerusalem in a 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it, considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital. The Palestinians want the eastern part of the city as the capital of their own future state.

The international community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, believing Jerusalem’s status should be resolved in negotiations.

While most foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv, four opened in Jerusalem after the United States recognised the city as Israel’s capital in 2017.

The move, which reversed decades of U.S. policy, has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians, who say it violates international law and could destroy the prospects of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

At the time of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed serious concern and said “such steps can cancel out prospects for a Middle East peace process”.

But the Russian embassy’s statement on Friday said the opening of a branch office in Jerusalem “goes in line with our country’s unchanging course towards a fair Middle East settlement”.

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