Jerusalem (AFP) – The Russian embassy in Israel hosted a reception for its national day in Jerusalem for the first time on Thursday, instead of Tel Aviv, a Russian official said.
It comes in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, after he recognised the disputed city as capital of Israel.
Before that decision the Russian government last year said it views “west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”.
The same statement also recognised “east Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state”.
Dmitry Alushkin, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv, said Thursday’s event is consistent with his country’s April 2017 remarks.
Attending the reception, at the Russian-owned Saint Sergius Mission in western Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was doubly pleased to participate.
“It is Russia’s holiday and it is a holiday which is being initiated and performed in Jerusalem,” a government statement quoted him as saying.
“I imagine that there will be many more such days in Jerusalem,” he added.
Palestinians claim the eastern part of Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state. The Jewish state considers the entire city its own, “indivisible” capital.
In December, Trump recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, without making any distinction between the mainly Palestinian east and the predominantly Jewish west.
His move broke with decades of international consensus that Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians, and drew near global condemnation.
Particularly enraged were the Palestinians, who declared a diplomatic boycott of the United States.
The Trump administration said that the move did not, however, prejudge the final status of the city, nor the borders of Israeli sovereignty.