Kosovo, a European-Muslim country, normalizes ties with Israel
According to a statement published by the White House, Serbia is "committed to opening a commercial office in Jerusalem this month and moving its embassy there in July."
Muslim-majority Kosovo recognized Israel as part of a US-brokered accord on Friday, which will also see the Eastern European country normalize economic ties with former rival, Serbia.
The agreement, which U.S. President Donald Trump hailed as “a breakthrough,” follows two days of meeting between U.S. officials, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti.
According to a statement published by the White House, Serbia is “committed to opening a commercial office in Jerusalem this month and moving its embassy there in July.”
Another great day for peace with Middle East – Muslim-majority Kosovo and Israel have agreed to normalize ties and establish diplomatic relations. Well-done! More Islamic and Arab nations will follow soon!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2020
Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and moved the U.S. embassy in May 2018 – a move criticized by the Palestinians and much of the international community.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians see the city’s eastern part as their state’s capital.
Friday’s declaration comes in the wake of a controversial normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and a regional tour by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to lobby other Arab countries to follow suit.
Congratulations to the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo on today’s historic agreement. We reaffirm our support for ongoing Serbia-Kosovo negotiations, and we welcome Kosovo’s normalization of ties with Israel, while commending Serbia for committing to move its Embassy to Jerusalem.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 4, 2020
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, embraced the declaration and said that he would renew efforts “so that more European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem.”
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Trump called Netanyahu during his meeting with Kosovo’s Prime Minister and congratulated the two leaders.
Following the call, Netanyahu said Kosovo would be the “first nation with a Muslim majority to open an embassy in Jerusalem.”
Today, Kosovo and Israel have agreed on mutual recognition. Israel is our strategic partner. I had a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu @netanyahu and we agreed to establish diplomatic relations. ????
— Avdullah Hoti (@Avdullah) September 4, 2020
“As I have said recently, the circle of peace and recognition of Israel is widening, and other nations are expected to join it.”
Haaretz said Netanyahu also thanked the Serbian president for the “decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
“We will carry on with efforts so that other European nations move their embassies to Jerusalem,” he was quoted as saying.
Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti of Kosovo: "We are fully committed to work together to improve people's lives, to make new jobs in the region … We share the same values of freedom, democracy, and open market economy." pic.twitter.com/orN3rrGyWv
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 4, 2020
Serbia is set to become the first European country to open its embassy in Jerusalem.
Israel has yet to recognize Kosovo’s independence, but, according to Haaretz: “Israel has been in talks in recent years with Kosovo about opening an office for economic interests in Tel Aviv to move forward with investment and trade with the Balkan state.”
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