Israel and Muslim-majority Kosovo to establish relations

Those agreements, known accumulatively as the Abraham Accords, triggered condemnation in many majority-Muslim nations.

(Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Kosovo and Israel established diplomatic relations on Monday, with the Muslim-majority country recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

(Reuters/Amir Cohen)

In a ceremony held online in Pristina and Jerusalem, the Kosovar Foreign Minister, Meliza Haradinaj Stublla, and her counterpart from Israel, Gabi Ashkenazi, signed a joint declaration establishing official ties.

Ashkenazi also said he had authorized Kosovo’s “formal request to open an embassy in Jerusalem.”

The normalization and embassy moves came after Israel last year signed a series of deals brokered by the former US President, Donald Trump, to establish diplomatic relations with Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.

Those agreements, known accumulatively as the Abraham Accords, triggered condemnation in many majority-Muslim nations.

But unlike Kosovo, the Arab parties to the Abraham Accords have all asserted that their diplomatic missions in Israel would be in Tel Aviv.

(Reuters/Amir Cohen)

That position is in line with global consensus against recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until the Palestinian conflict is resolved.

Trump in 2017 shocked witnesses by saying the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In May the following year, the embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was celebrated in Israel but criticized elsewhere.

To date, Guatemala is the only other state besides the US that operates an embassy in Jerusalem.

In exchange for setting up its embassy in Jerusalem, Kosovo gets recognition from the Jewish state, as it seeks to legitimize further its 2008 declaration of independence from its former war foe Serbia.

Kosovo’s top diplomat, Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla, appreciated Israel for becoming the 117th country to recognize its independence, joining much of the Western world.

China, Russia, and five European Union (EU) members have not granted recognition to Kosovo.

Meanwhile, Pakistan had recognized Muslim-majority Kosovo as an independent state in late 2012.

In September last year, Trump announced at a summit organized initially to strike a deal between Kosovo and Serbia that Kosovo and Israel would establish diplomatic relations.

The most striking part of the summit was Kosovo’s announcement that it would mutually recognize Israel, and Serbia saying it would follow Washington’s step in moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

So far, however, Serbia has failed to honor its pledge, with some officials claiming the deal was non-binding.

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