The decision of the Serbian authorities to follow the US example and move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has caused resonance and outrage in the Arab and Islamic world.

The move of Belgrade was condemned by the League of Arab States (LAS).

According to the Secretary General of the organization, Ahmed Abu al-Gheit, the opening of the embassies of Kosovo and Serbia in Jerusalem violates the UN Security Council resolutions and the norms of international law.

In particular, UN Security Council Resolution 478 of 1980 prohibits countries from opening embassies in Jerusalem, the Arab League recalled.

Ankara also expressed its disappointment with Belgrade's move.

The corresponding statement was posted on the website of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

“We are deeply concerned about the decision of the Republic of Serbia to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The international community and the UN condemn the Israeli annexation of Jerusalem, ”the message says.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu

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  • © Debbie Hill / Pool

For its part, the Israeli leadership welcomed Serbia's actions.

“I thank my friend, President of Serbia Vucic for the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer the embassy of his country there ... We will continue our efforts to move more European embassies to Jerusalem,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

At the same time, he did not forget to mention Pristina, stressing that Kosovo will become "the first country with a Muslim majority" to open an embassy in Jerusalem. 

Foreign elements

Recall that the clauses on the transfer of the Serbian embassy to Jerusalem and Israel's recognition of Kosovo's independence are contained in the agreement signed by the leaders of Serbia and the self-proclaimed Kosovo agreement called "Economic normalization".

The document is mainly devoted to the issues of economic cooperation between Kosovo and Belgrade, but also contains political points.

Thus, under the terms of the agreement, Belgrade undertakes not to try to hinder the recognition of Kosovo's independence in the international arena throughout the year.

For its part, Pristina for the same period suspends actions aimed at admitting Kosovo to international organizations.

It should be noted that the documents signed by Vucic and Hoti contain a number of points that are not directly related to the Balkan agenda.

In particular, the parties pledged to prohibit the use of 5G equipment from unreliable suppliers on their territory, and to demolish the already built facilities.

As a reminder, in 2019, the first 5G mobile station began operating in the Belgrade Science and Technology Park.

It was originally planned that the massive introduction of 5G technology in Serbia will take place in 2020, but then the launch of new mobile networks was postponed to 2021.

The technological partner of the project was the Chinese company Huawei.

Now the Serbian authorities will most likely have to reconsider these plans, as Washington effectively declared war on Huawei early last year.

In February 2019, the US federal authorities charged the company with a number of crimes, including industrial espionage, fraud, sanctions violations, and obstruction of justice.

Note that earlier Washington and European countries have repeatedly put forward a demand to terminate cooperation in the 5G field with Huawei.

Another point that is not directly related to the settlement of the issue of interaction between Belgrade and Pristina is the obligation of both sides to seek the decriminalization of homosexuality in those countries where it is criminalized.

  • Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija

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  • © Hazir Reka

In addition, Pristina and Belgrade pledged to declare the Lebanese military-political organization Hezbollah a terrorist structure.

Another unfriendly step against the Islamic world by Belgrade will be the transfer of the Serbian embassy to Jerusalem.

As the document says, this should happen by July 1, 2021.

In September 2020, Serbia will open a representative office of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and a state office in Jerusalem.

At the same time, in the version of the document presented for the signature of the Kosovo delegation, the last paragraph states that Kosovo and Israel recognize each other's state status.

It is possible that a Kosovo embassy will also be established in Jerusalem, since back in 2018, former Kosovar leader Hashim Thaci announced that Pristina would place its embassy in Jerusalem if the Israeli authorities recognize Kosovo's independence.

As MGIMO professor Elena Ponomareva noted in an interview with RT, the Turkish side is also unlikely to like Kosovo's rapprochement with Israel.

“The historical ally of the Kosovar Albanians is not Israel, but Turkey.

Therefore, the rapprochement of Pristina with Israel may in the future lead to costs for Kosovo, and not only to Turkey's discontent with the Serbian authorities, ”the expert explained.

Recall that the UN does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over East Jerusalem - this part of the city came under Israeli control following the 1967 Six-Day War. 

In 2018, at the initiative of the head of the White House, Donald Trump, the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Although the American side stated that this step does not mean Washington's recognition of Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem, a number of countries took this decision extremely negatively.

Serbia is now facing the reaction of the international community, following the example of the United States.

The head of the White House, Donald Trump, has already congratulated his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic on the upcoming transfer of the Serbian embassy to Jerusalem next year.

“Congratulations to President Vucic on the announcement of the relocation of the Serbian Embassy to Jerusalem by July.

This is a bold historic step! "

- wrote Trump on Twitter.

Congratulations to @predsednikrs Vucic for announcing the move of Serbia's Embassy to Jerusalem by July.

It is a brave and historic move!

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2020

The American leader also touched upon the topic of relations between the Balkan countries and Israel during a recent press conference in Washington.

The politician stressed that the American side highly appreciates the decision of Belgrade.

“Serbia intends to open a trade office in Jerusalem this month and move its embassy there in July.

It's just awesome.

This is a huge step and an important statement.

We really appreciate it, ”the American leader added.

The next round of negotiations on a Kosovo settlement will be held on September 7 in Brussels.

It will be attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister of partially recognized Kosovo Avdulla Hoti, as well as EU diplomat Josep Borrell and EU Special Representative for the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade Miroslav Lajcak.  

Embedding in American vector

Note that Aleksandr Vucic announced plans to open a representative office of Serbia in Jerusalem back in March 2020.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Israel Committee, the Serbian leader promised to "find the best way to do something official in Jerusalem."

The talk was about the possible opening of a state office in Serbia.

However, the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem was still not part of Belgrade's plans earlier.

Speaking to reporters after the signing of an economic agreement with Kosovo in Washington, Vucic said that Serbia will move the embassy only if Israel respects its interests.

  • Jerusalem

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  • © Ammar Awad

Experts explain the contradictions between the words of the Serbian president and the content of the document signed by him by the haste with which the host side met.

According to Elena Ponomareva, the signing of the document took place in a strange atmosphere, since the Americans were negotiating separately with Serbia and Kosovo.

“The Serbian delegation had virtually no access to the draft document before it was signed.

The Serbian side was allowed to familiarize themselves with it at the last moment before signing.

Not to mention the fact that the document has a strange format, because if this is an agreement, then it must be signed by at least two parties, and there is only Vucic's signature.

So far, this document does not even have international status, it is just a statement by the Serbian president, it cannot even be ratified by parliament, "the expert emphasized in an interview with RT.

Andrei Suzdaltsev, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the Higher School of Economics, shares a similar point of view.

“The fact that the item on the transfer of the Serbian embassy was included in the final document resembles a kind of provocation, since this issue has not been discussed earlier.

There is a feeling that Vucic was simply presented with a fact, ”the expert suggested in a commentary on RT.

According to Suzdaltsev, the signing of the conditions imposed by the United States was a serious failure for Belgrade.

  • Hezbollah fighter

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  • © Issam Kobeisi

“There was tremendous pressure on Vucic in all positions, although he held on and the recognition of Kosovo did not take place.

If we talk about the impending relocation of the Serbian embassy, ​​as well as the ban on Hezbollah, it is obvious that in general we are talking about embedding Serbia in US policy in the Middle East, which is contrary to Russian interests.

It is surprising that they did not try to include clauses on relations between Serbia and Russia in the documents signed by Belgrade, ”the expert added.

In turn, Pavel Kandel, a leading researcher at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted in an interview with RT that Serbia has always had good relations with Israel and the decision to move the embassy itself was easy for Belgrade.

“However, the second part of the agreements signed in Washington implies that Israel recognizes the independence of Kosovo.

Thus, while Serbia is going to meet Israel, Israel is going to meet Kosovo and the United States.

Now Brussels is taking over the negotiating initiative from the United States, and it is possible that the European side will also impose some conditions on Belgrade, ”the expert added.

According to Elena Ponomareva, it cannot be ruled out that Belgrade will refuse to fulfill the signed document, including the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem, since the Serbian society is outraged by this agreement.

“When Israel recognizes the independence of Kosovo, the pressure on Vucic from the public will increase even more.

And the rejection of this document will be a way out of the current collision, within which Belgrade took unilateral steps towards Israel and the United States, ”the expert summed up.