Putin asks Bennett for Jerusalem church

i24NEWS

3 min read
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Sochi, Russia, on October 22, 2021.
Photo by YEVGENY BIYATOV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty ImagesRussia's President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Sochi, Russia, on October 22, 2021.

'A situation arose with Ukraine, and Israel has acted as expected: Trying to please everyone'

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin sent a letter to his Israeli counterpart Naftali Bennett requesting that he authorizes the transfer of control of Jerusalem’s Church of St. Alexander Nevsky to Moscow.

Israeli sources said on Monday that Israel was handling the matter, without elaborating, Haaretz reported.

The church was supposed to be handed over to Russia as part of a deal two year ago in exchange for the release of Israeli-American Naama Issachar, who was detained in Russia on drug charges.

However, Jerusalem’s District Court halted the process last month, saying it should be done under the supervision of Bennett.

Sergei Stepashin, a former Russian prime minister, said last week that Putin would send the letter.

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Stepashin is chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, which is responsible for Russian holy sites in Israel, according to Haaretz.

“We are fighting for the return of St. Alexander Nevsky, and it’s a really tough one,” Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

“A situation arose with Ukraine, and Israel has acted as expected: Trying to please everyone both here and there,” he added.

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The Church of St. Alexander Nevsky is located in Jerusalem’s Old City, adjacent to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is considered among the most important Russian sites in the holy basin and a pilgrimage destination.

After Issachar was freed in January 2020, the Israeli Justice Ministry’s Land Registry began the process to transfer control of the church to Moscow, Haaretz reported.

But the swap was never officially acknowledged, prompting the Jerusalem court to make its ruling due to the church’s holy status.

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