Granted, it not what we want – a unified Jerusalem under Israel’s control like was the case thousands of years ago – but it is a surprising move by the Russians. Especially considering no other government in the world has come out to say unequivocally that any of Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) April 6, 2017
Here’s the full statement:
Foreign Ministry statement regarding Palestinian-Israeli settlement
Moscow is deeply concerned about the situation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Palestine and Israel have not held political negotiations for nearly three years, and the situation on the ground has been deteriorating.
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 neighbours.
Moscow reaffirms its support for the two-state solution as an optimal option that meets the national interests of the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom have friendly relations with Russia, and the interests of all other countries in the region and the international community as a whole.
We reaffirm our 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. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The concrete parameters of a solution for the entire range of issues regarding the status of Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, should be coordinated at the direct talks between the parties involved. Using its opportunities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a co-sponsor of the peace process and an active member of the Middle East Quartet of international intermediaries, Russia will continue to provide assistance to the achievement of Israeli-Palestinian agreements. We will focus on ensuring free access to Jerusalem’s holy places for all believers.
And why would Russia do this now?
I have a few theories, all of which could quite possibly be nowhere near the mark.
Theory 1: Putin is trying to exert his influence in this region and outmuscle Trump. Trump has already indicated he would not impose the two-state solution in Israel. Putin is now indicating that he favors the two-state solution as the optimal solution, knowing full well this is the position of most of the (non-Arab) world.
Theory 2: Israeli PM Netanyahu came out to accuse the Russian-backed Assad regime of deliberate chemical weapon attacks on civilians. Putin has already castigated Netanyahu for this, and may now be “recognizing” West Jerusalem as a small sweetener to buy his silence.
Theory 3: Putin is a time traveller who went to the future and saw this was somehow the best move to serve Russian interests.