Kosovars feel leaderless but led by those who sing to the tune of the US. Their diplomatic recognition of Israel comes in that light.

Kosovo and Israel have agreed on establishing diplomatic relations, and the Balkans Muslim-majority country, along with Serbia, will open an embassy in Jerusalem.

With US President Donald Trump acting as a middleman between Israel and several majority Muslim states, particularly the Arab states, Tel Aviv is fast achieving its goal of normalising its ties with the states that refused to recognise it for decades, brushing Palestinian aspirations under the carpet. 

With Kosovo becoming another country to follow the footsteps of the UAE, which recently forged formal links with Tel Aviv,  Pristina also agreed on opening its diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, a move that strengthens Israel’s unilateral decision of declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  

Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci tweeted on Saturday: “I welcome the announcement of Israeli PM [Benjamin] Netanyahu about the genuine intention to recognize Kosovo and establish diplomatic relations. Kosovo will keep its promise to place its diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.”

If it were to happen, Kosovo will be the first Muslim-majority country to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, although it is in a clear violation of international law.

Kosovars are not happy

Speaking to TRT World, Kosovar politician Ertan Simitci said the move should be seen in the light of Kosovo's need to have the recognition of as many countries as possible since it is quite a young state established in 2008. 

“The Kosovar officials who went to Washington to make bilateral agreements with Serbia, while waiting for recognition from Serbia, were satisfied with recognising Israel and signing an economic normalisation agreement with Serbia,” Simitci said, adding that “the winner of the agreement is Israel.”

“The fact that the text of an agreement covering the normalisation of economic relations is based on the establishment of diplomatic relations and mutual recognition does not escape the attention of the public and is also the focus of criticism.”

Simitci described the Kosovan government's decision to normalise its relations with Israel as “a sad and thought-provoking situation,” criticising the leaders in charge for being "unfair and immoral." 

As the government led by the Self-Determination Movement fell in late May and was replaced by the centre-right Democratic League of Kosovo without an election, Simitci said the current dispensation is not an elected one and does not reflect the will of the nation. 

Therefore, he said, a bold decision like recognising Israel and forming ties with it is out of step with what the Kosovan majority feels toward the Palestinian cause. 

“While the legitimacy of the current government is being discussed today, we can say that the decisions taken are worrying,” he said, adding that the country needs to go for an early parliamentary election to form a majority government. 

Simitci said Kosovars are well aware of the atrocities committed by Israeli forces against Palestinians as they themselves have also been maimed and persecuted by Serbians in a similar fashion.  

Apart from making efforts to get the Republic of Kosovo recognised internationally,  Simitci said the country should take into account other "friendly and brotherly" countries like Turkey that urged Pristina to refrain from normalising ties with Tel Aviv. 

Simitci said he's making efforts to unite Turkish-origin voters under a new political platform so that their aspirations and opinions are represented in the decision-making process.

A local resident of Pristina who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons said the ruling dispensation came under the pressure of the US, as Washington wanted them to stop cold-shouldering Israel and be diplomatically warm to the Jewish state. 

A shopkeeper from Kosovo's Prizren city said “both Albanians and Turks are uncomfortable" with the deal. 

Since the US-brokered agreement was taken without parliamentary approval in Kosovo, the shopkeeper said he doesn't think it would have been accepted if the matter had gone through the parliament. 

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles in the forging of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, who with broad international backing, want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, as their capital. 

Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it annexed after the 1967 war, as its main city.

Many Kosovars say that the current government may not survive in the near future and its decision to normalise its ties with Tel Aviv will be one of the main reasons people would eject them from power. 

"Kosovars have been supporting Palestinian people since the Yugoslavia era," he said.

Source: TRT World