A general view of the city of Jerusalem shows the Dome of the Rock mosque on December 4, 2017 – THOMAS COEX (AFP/File)
It would have been “irrational” for Russia not to have recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who is also the Middle East envoy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told i24NEWS.
In an in-depth interview with i24NEWS at the Dialogue of Civilizations Rhodes Forum, Bogdanov argued that it would be “logical” for other countries that recognise a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem to recognise Israeli sovereignty in West Jerusalem.
But he explained that Russia would not move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem until it could also move its mission in Ramallah to the eastern part of the contested city.
Russia surprised the international community in April 2017 by recognising West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, becoming the first country in the world to recognise Israeli sovereignty over any part of the disputed city. In a laconic statement at the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry did not explain the reasoning for the unusual announcement.
“Sometimes we notice that there are certain elements of irrationality in our approach,” Bogdanov told i24NEWS, speaking through an interpreter. Russia, he noted, had already recognised an independent Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem, in November 1988. “And we asked ourselves a question—what about West Jerusalem? If we say East Jerusalem is the capital of a Palestinian state, then logically, West Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel.”
Bogdanov noted that the Israeli leadership is based in Jerusalem. “Therefore it was logical to come to the conclusion that East Jerusalem, God willing, would be the capital of Palestine, and West Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel. Logically,” he argued.
Under the original UN Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947, Jerusalem was supposed to be an international enclave. In 1948 during Israel’s war of independence, Israel and Jordan conquered the western and eastern sectors of the city respectively.