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Russian statement endorses West Jerusalem as Israel's capital
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Russian statement endorses West Jerusalem as Israel's capital

In what was hailed by Israeli media as an "unexpected, unprecedented, and curious move," Russia has said it envisions West Jerusalem as the future capital of Israel and East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The Russian Foreign Ministry statement on April 6 appears to represent a shift in Russian policy.

Previously, Moscow has formally stated that Jerusalem should be under permanent international control.

In stating its support for a two-state solution to the long-standing conflict, the Foreign Ministry wrote: "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. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."

In 1995, the U.S. Jerusalem Embassy Act recognized the city as the capital of Israel, but that law was also never put into effect. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama did not recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, claiming the congressional act infringed on the executive branch's authority over foreign policy.

Although Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, nearly all foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv as countries have refrained from recognising that status until it is agreed in future peace talks.

The Russian statement could be seen as a mixed blessing for Israel.

On one hand, Israel has a stated goal of having Jerusalem recognised as its capital. On the other hand, it sees the entire city as its capital, not just the western portion.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry was taken aback by the statement.

"We are studying the matter," the paper quoted a ministry spokesman as saying.

 Click here to read the full article in Radio Free Europe

Thursday, April 13, 2017
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