Serbia has announced that it will relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, as will its neighboring country of Kosovo, after Israel agreed to recognize and establish full diplomatic relations with the break-away Muslim-majority nation.
The two historic announcements were made as part of a normalization agreement between Serbia and Kosovo brokered by US President Donald Trump and signed at the White House on Friday.
Serbia, which said it will relocate its embassy by July 2021, is the first European country to open an embassy in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for “the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer to it his country’s embassy.”
He also thanked Trump for “his contribution to this achievement. We will continue efforts so that additional European countries will transfer their embassies to Jerusalem.”
Trump telephoned Netanyahu during the meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Abdullah Hoti and congratulated the two leaders on their decision to establish full diplomatic relations.
“Kosovo will be the first Muslim-majority country to open an embassy in Jerusalem. As I have been saying in recent days, the circle of peace and recognition of Israel is expanding and additional countries are expected to join it,” Netanyahu stated.
Israel Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi welcomed Serbia’s announcement as “an important and courageous step that testifies to the depth of relations between Israel and Serbia and will lead to the strengthening of the friendship between the two nations.”
Israel views the decision of Serbia and Kosovo to establish embassies in Jerusalem “as a symbolic step towards promoting peace between these countries. The city of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel, will constitute a bridge of peace to the entire world,” he added, calling on other countries to follow in their footsteps and “move their embassies to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.”
Ashkenazi also thanked Trump and the US administration for leading the move and “for its regional and international leadership.”
“The US administration continues to lead to significant diplomatic breakthroughs, both in our relations with Serbia and Kosovo, as in the promotion of normalization and the historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Israel has no better ally than the United States,” he said.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, celebrated the development as “another breakthrough, another Muslim country normalizing ties with Israel.”
“The establishment of relations with Kosovo is an impressive achievement, and will soon lead to more Muslim countries choosing peace with Israel and leaving the rejectionist Palestinians isolated,” he tweeted.
The establishment of relations with Kosovo is an impressive achievement, and will soon lead to more Muslim countries choosing peace with Israel and leaving the rejectionist Palestinians isolated. pic.twitter.com/tHpwQ04cZ2
— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) September 5, 2020
Czech President Miloš Zeman, who has long campaigned for the relocation of his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, welcomed the announcement by the two countries.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion welcomed the move and said that the capital “is the natural place of all the embassies located in the country and I believe that in the coming years more countries will move their missions to Jerusalem.”
The Czech Republic has a cultural and trade center in Jerusalem, and Brazil and Honduras have trade offices in the capital.
Guatemala opened an embassy in the city in May 2018 a day after the US became the first country in the world to do so.