Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Serbia would become the first European country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, after Donald Trump recognized the city as the capital of Israel nearly three years ago.
Kosovo will also set up its Israeli mission in Jerusalem and gain recognition from Israel in return, as it seeks to further legitimize its 2008 declaration of independence and statehood.“I thank my friend the President of Serbia … for the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy there,” Netanyahu said, adding that the controversial decision would be taken in July 2021.
It was Washington’s second big news in a month for Israel on the diplomatic front. In August, the United States negotiated an agreement with the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations with Israel, symbolically marked on Monday by the first commercial air flight between the two countries.
The deal, which is expected to be signed in a White House ceremony in the coming weeks, would be Israel’s first with a Gulf nation.
Palestinians reacted cynically to the announcements from Kosovo and Serbia, suggesting they were aimed at bolstering Trump’s re-election prospects in two months.
“Palestine has fallen victim to the electoral ambitions of President Trump, whose team would take any measure, however destructive it may be for peace … to obtain his re-election” in November, tweeted Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the ‘Palestine Liberation Organization. (PLO). “This, like the UAE-Israel deal, is not about peace in the Middle East. ”
Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said the steps would advance peace and make Americans more secure.
“Today’s breakthrough is really historic,” Kushner told the White House. “This is just another chapter this administration was able to write to make the world a safer and more peaceful place.”
Traditionally, most diplomatic missions to Israel have been in Tel Aviv, with countries remaining neutral on the disputed city of Jerusalem, holy to all three Abrahamic religions, until its status can be settled in an Israeli peace agreement. -Palestinian.
Israel took control of East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in movements never recognized by the international community.
Israel views the city as its undivided capital, but Palestinians view the eastern part of mostly Arab Jerusalem, including the Old City with its holy sites, as the illegally occupied capital of their future state.
The United Nations and the European Union, Israel’s largest economic partner, have said the city’s final status should be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, and said countries should not set up their embassies there until then. .