Because of the Corona virus crisis, Israel and Kosovo launched diplomatic relations today, Monday, via the Internet, according to an agreement brokered by the United States that includes a pledge by Muslim-majority Kosovo to open an embassy in Jerusalem.
Israel views its new relations with the small country in the Balkans as part of a broader process of normalization with Arab and Islamic countries, thanks to agreements sponsored by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.
During a signing ceremony held on the Zoom platform for videoconferences on the Internet, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said that the new relations are “historic” and “reflect a change in the region, and in the worlds’ Arab and Islamic relations with Israel.”
Ashkenazi said that he had received a formal request from Kosovo to establish an embassy in Jerusalem, which Israeli officials hope will open at the end of March.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the ceremony included the unveiling of a memorial plaque that will be placed at the entrance to the Kosovo embassy in Jerusalem when it opens.
Kosovo’s foreign minister, Melisa Hardina-Stubla, said that her country and Israel had a “historical bond,” and each witnessed a “long and arduous path until it turned into a state and a people.”
Hardina-Stubla said that she recently spoke with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who conveyed to her President Joe Biden’s support for the new relations between Kosovo and Israel and the economic agreement with Serbia.
It is noteworthy that Kosovo will obtain, in return for the establishment of its diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, on Israel’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, which took place in 2008.
In mid-September, the UAE and Bahrain signed a historic agreement to normalize relations with Israel, the first between Israel and the Gulf states, and the third in the Arab world after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994), and Sudan and Morocco joined them.
These agreements sparked criticism in several Muslim-majority countries.