Daily US Times: The Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has announced Serbia will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, becoming the first European country to follow the United States in making the move.
Most diplomatic missions in Israel have been in Tel Aviv as countries want to stay neutral over the disputed Jerusalem until its status could be settled in an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
But US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and announced the shifting the US embassy from Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu revealed Serbia’s move on Friday, adding that the transfer will happen by July 2021.
Netanyahu said: “I thank my friend the president of Serbia … for the decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to transfer his embassy there.”
“I would like also to thank my friend President Trump for contributing to this achievement,” he added.
News of Serbia’s move coincided with the announcement by Trump that former foes Serbia and Kosovo had agreed on a historic pact to normalise economic relations. Serbia is not a member of the 27-nation EU.
A senior Palestinian official slammed Serbia’s decision, saying it makes “Palestine a victim” of Trump’s re-election hopes.
Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a tweet: “Palestine has become a victim of the electoral ambitions of President Trump, whose team would take any action, no matter how destructive for peace … to achieve his re-election.”
He added: “This, just like the UAE-Israel agreement [to normalise diplomatic ties], isn’t about Middle East Peace.”
In 1967, Israel seized control of East Jerusalem and later annexed it in moves never recognised by the international community.
The country considers the city its undivided capital, but the Palestinian Authority (PA) sees the occupied eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City with its holy sites, as the capital of their future state.