Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov
Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly ViktorovAvshalom Sassoni/Flash90

Five years after the US dedicated its new embassy in Jerusalem, Russia is set to follow suit, Israel Hayom revealed.

According to Israel Hayom, in a secret agreement Russia and Israel agreed to open a Russian embassy branch in the center of Jerusalem.

In the agreement between the Jerusalem municipality, headed by Mayor Moshe Lion, and the Russian Foreign Ministry, Russia officially committed itself to planning, building, and operating a consular branch in the Hama'alot parking lot off of King George Street in central Jerusalem. In exchange, the city has promised not to expropriate the land for the benefit of the light rail line which is expected to pass nearby, instead seeking alternative transportation solutions.

The city will also allow the Russians to register as the owners of an area 100 meters in length, which will be used for the road to the future diplomatic compound, and it will remove any suits or demands from the Russian Federation, which for many years has avoided paying taxes as legally required.

At the same time, the parking lot will continue operating until the embassy branch is constructed.

The diplomatic compound will provide consular services to the residents of Jerusalem and its environs, and will also house diplomats, giving the land a higher status than that of a consulate. Under the agreement, construction will be completed within five years, with an option to extend it to ten years.

The agreement was signed in the Mayor's office on Jerusalem Day, and both Lion himself and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (Likud) took part in the negotiations over the past six months. Representing the Russians was their Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov, along with Sergei Makarov, who acted in the name of Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. Representing the Jerusalem municipality was General Manager Itzik Larry and legal adviser Eli Malka. The Foreign Ministry's Euro-Asia department head, Yuval Fuchs, is also a signatory to the agreement.