After saying it would move its embassy to Jerusalem in a dramatic announcement as part of an agreement to normalize economic ties with the breakaway republic of Kosovo, Serbia appears to be backtracking on such a move. This is not surprising as it appears that many nations are hinting out normalization with Israel and then checking to see the reaction. After the UAE breakthrough it appeared six other nations were ready. But when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited their country, not one would commit. They are testing the waters.
However, after the powerful images of Israeli diplomats in the UAE last week, other nations declared their intentions to connect with Jerusalem. They have much to gain and they realize that the corrupt Palestinian leadership will never make peace with Israel. With Serbia however, it appears to be more than just the testing of the waters.
The announcement last Friday came as a surprise to most Israelis as the leaders of the two Balkan nations were in Washington to hammer out a deal brokered by U.S. President Donald Trump. As part of the deal, Israel was somehow thrown into the mix and both countries agreed to open embassies in Jerusalem.
Israel refused to recognize Kosovo based on a long-standing policy to withhold validation of an ethnic group’s unilateral declaration of independence — something that could set a dangerous precedent with the Palestinians. However, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that Israel was ready to recognize Kosovo and welcome the first Muslim-majority nation’s embassy to Jerusalem.
Serbian sources, however, have now told at least two Israeli publications that the country will back off its decision if Israel recognizes Kosovo as an independent country.
Both The Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel reported that sources said it wouldn’t happen.
“Moreover, this move by Israel would harm the otherwise intimate relationship between Israel and Serbia and it will never be the same. It’s that simple,” a source told the Jpost.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. But surely Serbia knew of Kosovo’s intentions—they announce on the same day.
“This could end up being a real mess, unless there is a compromise on what sort of relationship Israel will end up having with Kosovo,” a source told The Times of Israel. “Diplomatic relations with Kosovo are one thing, recognition as an independent country is another thing entirely. This would destroy the Israel-Serbia relationship.”
On Friday, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying that Kosovo and Israel had decided to “establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries.”
It seems like the celebrations of gaining two more embassies in Jerusalem were short lived.