Russia will be opening a branch office of its Embassy in Jerusalem, partially following in the footsteps of the US, which fully relocated its embassy to Israel’s capital during the Trump presidency. The move is part of a wider real estate deal designed to end an ongoing dispute between Israel and Russia around that property. The Russians will still maintain their primary embassy in Tel Aviv. A copy of the agreement was obtained by Israel Hayom, who broke the story.
The embassy branch will be built on the Maalot Parking lot, next to King George street, in the city center. Russia’s claim to the property will be recognized and it will be exempted from all the outstanding taxes due on the property. In addition, Jerusalem Light Rail construction will be rerouted to avoid going through Russia’s property.
The branch will provide local consular services as well as house diplomatic residences, which gives it higher status than a consulate. The construction is expected to take five years, though it could extend up to ten years.
As a slight relief for the local residents, until construction begins, the area will continue to function as a parking lot.
The agreement was signed this past May on Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), in the presence of Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov and Ambassador-at-Large Sergey Makarov, who both represented the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, according to Israel Hayom.
Russia claims ownership of a number of disputed properties in Jerusalem.