Russia’s embassy in Israel will open an office in Jerusalem as part of an agreement with the city’s municipality, the embassy and Israel’s foreign ministry said today.

The Russian embassy in Israel said in a statement that the agreement for a piece of land in West Jerusalem, which Russia bought in 1885, was signed with the Jerusalem municipality on May 18, after a process that lasted several years. The property will be used to build a building complex that will serve the consular section of the embassy, ​​it is reported.

The status of Jerusalem — which includes holy sites for Christians, Jews and Muslims — is one of the biggest obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

For Israel, which captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later annexed it, the city being his eternal and undivided capital. The Palestinians want the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.

The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, believing that the status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations.

Although most foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv, four were moved to Jerusalem after the United States recognized the city as Israel’s capital in 2017.

The move, which reversed decades of US policy, has drawn much satisfaction in Israel and angered Palestinians, who say it violates international law and could destroy prospects for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

When the decision was announced by former US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed grave concern and said “such steps can nullify the prospects for a peace process in the Middle East”.

But today’s statement from the Russian embassy says that the opening of the office in Jerusalem “is consistent with our unchanged course towards a just settlement in the Middle East”.