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June 6, 2018 10:35 am

Russia to Host Annual National Day Celebrations for First Time in Jerusalem

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, May 9, 2018. Photo: Sergei Ilnitsky / Pool / File photo via Reuters. – Russia has announced that it will host an annual Russia Day reception in the Sergei Courtyard in Jerusalem, better known as the Russian Compound, on June 15. Prior to this year, the celebration was conducted in Tel Aviv. This will be the first year the event will take place in Jerusalem.

Russia recognized western Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017, but has maintained that the eastern part of the city should be reserved as a capital city for a future Palestinian state.

The event will take place at the newly refurbished Russian Compound complex built in the late 19th century by Russia’s Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society for Russian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land.  It was nationalized under the British Mandate, but gifted to Russia in 2009 as a show of good will by Israel.

By contrast, the United States will not host its annual Independence Day celebrations in Jerusalem: the city it recently officially recognized as Israel’s capital. The US inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem to great fanfare in May.

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The 2018 Fourth of July celebration is scheduled to be hosted on the evening before America’s independence day by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at a large facility near Ben Gurion Airport, outside Tel Aviv. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin are scheduled to attend.

A US embassy official said the decision to host at “Airport City” was a practical one meant to account for weather, budget, and security considerations.

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