The Muslim-majority Balkan nation of Kosovo has agreed, along with neighboring Serbia, to establish full diplomatic relations will Israel and will open embassies in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced.
It will mark the first time a European country has opened an embassy in Jerusalem, and in the case of Kosovo, the first mostly Muslim country to do so.
The announcement comes on the heels of a similar statement by President Donald Trump, who met with the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo in Washington to establish economic ties between the rival Balkan nations.
Netanyahu thanked the president of Serbia for moving his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He said:
I thank my friend, Serbian President Vucic, for the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer to it his country’s embassy. I would like to thank my friend, President Trump, for his contribution to this achievement. We will continue efforts so that additional European countries will transfer their embassies to Jerusalem.
Netanyahu also commented on Israel’s expanding “circle of peace.”
“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,” the prime minister said.
Last month, Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize ties in what Netanyahu has described as a warm peace.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi urged all countries to follow Serbia and Kosovo’s example by opening embassies in Jerusalem.
“The city of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel, will be a bridge of peace to the entire world. I call on other countries to follow in their footsteps [of Serbia and Kosovo] and move their embassies to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.”
He continued by saying that “Israel has no more important ally than the United States.”
“The US administration continues to lead to significant diplomatic breakthroughs, both in our relations with Serbia and Kosovo, as well as the promotion of normalization and the historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan hailed the U.S. administration’s diplomatic achievements.
“Another breakthrough, another Muslim country normalizing ties with Israel. After the UAE & Kosovo, I believe more Muslim & Arab states will opt for peace, leaving the Palestinians isolated. Perhaps this will convince future Palestinian leaders to make concessions for peace,” Erdan posted to Twitter.
“I congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump on this great achievement. Serbia and Kosovo will now open embassies in Jerusalem, following in America’s footsteps, and paving the way for more countries,” he added.
Turkey called Kosovo’s decision to recognize Israel and establish an embassy in Jerusalem “disappointing” and a “clear violation of international law.”
On Saturday, the newly elected president of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera — an ardent pro-Israel supporter — announced his intention to open an embassy in Jerusalem.
The east African majority-Christian currently has no embassy in Israel.