JERUSALEM (JTA) – Russia said that just as it believes eastern Jerusalem is the capital of a future Palestinian state, it views the western half of the city as the capital of Israel.
The qualified statement issued Thursday by the Russian Foreign Ministry makes it one of the first countries to recognize any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.
“We reaffirm our commitment to the UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state,” the statement said. “At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
The statement deals with Russian concerns over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and expresses concern that “Palestine and Israel have not held political negotiations for nearly three years, and the situation on the ground has been deteriorating.”
“Moscow reaffirms its support for the two-state solution as an optimal option that meets the national interests of the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom have friendly relations with Russia, and the interests of all other countries in the region and the international community as a whole,” it said.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the recognition of western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will take effect immediately and not be contingent on the establishment of a Palestinian state with a capital in eastern Jerusalem.
Russia’s ambassador to Israel will meet with Foreign Ministry officials in the coming days to discuss the announcement and what it means, according to the Post, which also reported that there is currently no intention of moving Russia’s embassy to Jerusalem.
The U.S. Congress recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as part of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which called for the United States to move its embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, and also called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city. But the subsequent administrations of presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and now Trump have not recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital nor authorized an embassy move.