Israel will transfer ownership of land in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound to the Russian government.
The Cabinet on Sunday approved the transfer in ownership of Sergei’s Courtyard to Russia after four years of negotiations over the land, which is claimed by the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Courtyard, which makes up about 10 percent of the Russian Compound, is the only part of the compound that was not purchased from the Soviet Union by Israel in a $3.5 million deal in 1964. It houses the Israeli government Agriculture Ministry offices, the Nature and National Parks Protection Authority and the offices of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.
Within hours, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice to halt the transfer, claiming that a caretaker government does not have the right to make such a decision.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to leave for Russia on Monday for a two-day diplomatic trip.