Shocker: Russia recognizes 'West Jerusalem' as Israel's capital

Palestinians will not be permitted to enter or exit the West Bank or Gaza Strip beginning Monday at midnight until Monday April 17, with the exception of "humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases" approved by the Defense Ministry's Coordinator of the Government's Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the IDF said.

The 1948 partition of Israel named Jerusalem an "international city" and most states have refused to guarantee that they will accept a new Israeli capital even as part of a negotiated solution.

"The stalling of the Middle East peace process has created conditions for unilateral moves that undermine the potential for an internationally accepted solution to the Palestinian problem, under which two states - Israel and Palestine - could live in peace and security with each other and with their neighbors", said the Russian Foreign Ministry in an English-language statement on its website.

The statement goes on to affirm Russia's support for a two-state solution, which is described as an "optimal option" that meets the national interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. Russia's Ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein has announced he plans to meet with Israeli officials to discuss this issue.

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

The Russian announcement comes as US President Donald Trump is considering moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to west Jerusalem. This time around, the Russians might just make the first move.

Israeli soldiers abducted, overnight and at dawn Sunday, at least seventeen Palestinians in different parts of occupied East Jerusalem, in the West Bank, during extensive and violent searches of homes and property.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has acknowledged West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in a surprise announcement within a statement issued on Thursday. While Russia means for this declaration to be effective immediately, "there is now no intention ... of moving Russia's embassy to Jerusalem".

Local activist Muhammad Awad told Ma'an that an Israeli settler was driving on the road, located near Beit Ummar, when the settler attempted to to run over Palestinians Muhammad Basem Khader al-Alami, 25, and Saed Samir Hassan al-Salibi, 20.

However, the United Nations recognises East Jerusalem as a Palestinian City.

The statement also said that Moscow will 'focus on ensuring free access to Jerusalem's holy places for all believers'.

  • Zachary Reyes