Russia wants control of downtown Jerusalem

Thursday, May 31, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Moscow is in negotiations to purchase a large section of downtown Jerusalem once controlled by the Russian government prior to Israel's rebirth in 1948.

The 17-acre Russian Compound is today home to a large police facility and detention center, numerous pubs and restaurants and a large Russian Orthodox church.

The Russian government built up the area in the 1860s to accommodate the large number of Russian pilgrims who were visiting Jerusalem every year, particularly around the time of Easter.

Negotiations over the land has been ongoing since the premiership of Ehud Barak some seven years ago. The Russians are reportedly prepared to pay $100 million for the prime real estate.

Speaking to Israel National News, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed that Israel is not "selling" the land to Russia, but rather "returning" the area to its former owners - a very dangerous way of putting things considering the Arab claim to all of what is today the Jewish state.

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