Tuesday, September 22, 2020 -
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Serbia, Kosovo warm up to Israel

BELGRADE — Serbia is moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem and Kosovo is normalizing ties with the Jewish state, President Donald Trump said in a statement on Sept. 4.

Trump’s announcement said that Serbia would move its embassy by next July, mirroring Trump’s decision to do so in 2018. The country will also open a commercial office in the city, which the US recognizes as Israel’s capital.

Pres. Donald Trump watches as Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, right, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, left, sign an agreement on opening economic relations, in the Oval Office, Sept. 4, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)

In addition, Kosovo will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, according to Trump’s statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Kosovo would also move its embassy to Jerusalem, which would make it the first Muslim country to do so.

Trump has made Israel a central part of his foreign policy, from moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli authority over the Golan Heights to reaching a peace plan.

Last month, Trump announced that he had brokered a historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Last week’s news accompanied another announcement that Serbia and Kosovo would establish economic ties.

The Muslim-majority Kosovo declared its independence from the Christian-majority Serbia in 2008.

A decade earlier, Albanian rebels from Kosovo fought Serbian forces in a war following the persecution of ethnic Albanians in Serbia.

The Balkans have long been a world hotspot of bitter political and religious divisions. And on Wednesday the Jerusalem Post reported that Serbia said it would not move its embassy if Israel recognized Kosovo as an independent state.

The president of Malawi said that his country would open an embassy in Jerusalem.

Lazarus Chakwera made the announcement Sept. 5 as part of a larger expansion of the country’s diplomatic representation abroad. Malawi currently does not have a diplomatic mission in Israel.

The announcement came a day after Serbia and Kosovo announced that they too would open Jerusalem embassies.

Most countries with diplomatic missions in Israel locate them in Tel Aviv.

On Sunday, Sept. 6, chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that the Palestinian Authority would sever relations with any country that opens an embassy in Jerusalem.



JTA

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