23 November 2020, 10:00
There's some progress in Alexander Metochion issue - Israeli ambassador to Russia
Moscow, November 23, Interfax - The handover of the Alexander Metochion in Jerusalem to Russia is being considered at the court, but there is "some progress" in it, Israeli Ambassador in Moscow Alexander Ben Zvi said.
"There is some progress in it. The trial is ongoing, as several appeals were lodged with the Israeli court, and they are currently being considered," Ben Zvi said in an interview with Interfax.
This issue is not political, but legal, he said.
"The Metochion issue is constantly on the agenda of our contacts with the Russian side. It must be noted that the Israeli court is completely independence and we're waiting for the court decision," the ambassador said.
The Alexander Metochion, an archeological and architectural complex, is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, right near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The land on which it is located was purchased by Russia in 1859. The compound was built by the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society in 1896.
The controversy surrounding its ownership began after the 1917 revolution. At present, the compound is managed by a society led by German citizen Nikolay Worontsow-Hoffmann. It is officially known as the Russian Orthodox Society of the Holy Land and is registered in Munich. The Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society of Russia, chaired by former Russian Prime Minister Sergey Stepashin, is contesting the ownership of the metochion.
Several years ago, the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society of Russia collected the documents needed to register the Alexander Metochion as Russia's property and submitted them to the Israeli Justice Minister. They were expected to be returned on March 1, 2020. However, this process was put on hold after a number of lawsuits challenging the decision to hand over the metochion to Russia were lodged with Israel's court.