Russia praises ‘West Jerusalem’ for not joining anti-Russia 'hysteria'

For perhaps first time since declaring ‘West Jerusalem’ Israel's capital last year, Moscow refers to half of city as Israel's capital in formal statement.

March 17, 2018 20:57
2 minute read.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stands on the stage as he addresses the Federal Assembly in Moscow,

Russian President Vladimir Putin stands on the stage as he addresses the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia March 1, 2018. (photo credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)

In an unusual statement that referred to part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Russia on Friday praised “West Jerusalem” for not being drawn into what it described as a hysterical anti-Russian campaign following the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in Great Britain.

“The embassy notes with concern attempts undertaken by the government of the United Kingdom and supported by some other foreign nations and a number of media outlets, to draw Israel into [a] political and propagandistic campaign, which was unleashed by London under the false pretext of Russia’s alleged involvement [in the poisoning incident],” read a statement put out by the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv.

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After denying Russia’s involvement in the attack, the statement concluded that “many members of the international community have already drawn conclusions on the degree of trust that London deserves in this particular case. Against this background, the embassy takes into consideration the wise position of West Jerusalem, declared in the statement of the Foreign Ministry of Israel, dated March 15, 2018.”

On Thursday, the Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement saying that it “views with gravity” the event that took place in Great Britain and “condemns it vigorously.”

“We hope that the international community will cooperate in order to avoid such further events,” the statement read.

Britain had called on its allies to condemn the chemical toxin attack. The two-sentence statement did not specifically mention Russia.

Last April, eight months before US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that it “views west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” Although Israel would have liked Moscow to simply recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital and not divide the city, it marked the first time that any country recognized any part of Jerusalem as its capital.

The Russian statement said that it reaffirms Moscow’s 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 constituted a significant shift in Moscow’s policy, which until then maintained that Jerusalem should eventually be under a permanent international regime.

The embassy’s statement appeared to be one of the first times that Moscow, in an official statement, has referred to “West Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital.

In December, Russia – along with most of the rest of the world – blasted Trump for his Jerusalem declaration.

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