JERUSALEM — Russia's embassy to Israel will open a branch office in Jerusalem as part of an agreement with the city, the embassy and an Israeli foreign ministry official said on Friday.
The Russian embassy said in a statement that the deal over a land plot in West Jerusalem, which Russia purchased in 1885, was signed with Jerusalem's municipality on May 18, following a years-long process. The property will be used to construct a complex of buildings that will serve the consular section of the embassy, the statement said.
The status of Jerusalem — home to sites holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims — is one of 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 claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of their own future state.
The international community does not recognize 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 recognized the city as Israel's capital in 2017.
The move, which reversed decades of US 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 US 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."
agreement with the city, the embassy and an Israeli foreign
ministry official said on Friday.
The Russian embassy said in a statement that the
deal over a land plot in West Jerusalem, which Russia purchased
in 1885, was signed with Jerusalem's municipality on May...