by: Ilse Strauss
Monday, 15 March 2021 | Jerusalem as the capital of Israel received two significant nods of acceptance from Europe this weekend with the Czech Republic and Kosovo shunning international ire to open diplomatic offices in the disputed City of Gold—as opposed to Tel Aviv.
Kosovo took the biggest step, making history as the first European and first Muslim-majority nation to establish an embassy in Jerusalem. The Eastern European nation follows in the footsteps of the US and Guatemala as the third country to turn its back on international propaganda, opting for a consulate in Jerusalem instead of the more politically correct Tel Aviv.
“A truly proud and historic moment for Kosovo–Israel relations,” Kosovar Ambassador Ines Demiri tweeted following the opening yesterday. “The greatest honor of my life is to have this opportunity to open the embassy and proudly serve my country in Israel.”
For its part, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said it “warmly welcomes the opening of the Embassy of Kosovo in Jerusalem today, a natural development of the relations and a realization of the Washington agreement.”
The move comes half a year after a US-orchestrated Kosovo–Serbia summit hosted at the White House where the establishment of diplomatic ties between Israel and Kosovo was announced and just over a month after the newly forged relationship was made official during a virtual ceremony. The Kosovar Foreign Ministry announced during the ceremony that the Eastern European nation had chosen Jerusalem as the spot where its embassy would open its doors—and submitted a formal request to do so shortly after.
Pristina made good on its promise. “The pledge given in the Oval Office…is finally fulfilled,” the Foreign Ministry tweeted yesterday afternoon.
The Czech Republic’s step was slightly less committed, with Prague opting to establish a branch of its Israel office in Jerusalem while its official embassy remains headquartered in Tel Aviv.
Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš assured his audience that the move communicates Prague’s tacit approval of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Times of Israel reports.
According to Babiš, the diplomatic office “represents another milestone in our cooperation and gives evidence that we see the importance of this great city.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi hailed the move as “additional proof of the depth and the scope of the friendship we share with the Czech people, and the Czech Republic and government.”
Ashkenazi thanked Prague for “leading the change in Europe towards the city of Jerusalem as a whole and towards the connection with the State of Israel.”
“The Middle East as a whole has experienced a paradigm shift,” Ashkenzai said. “It is suitable to begin an era of peace with the recognition of truth. A historical truth that the city of Jerusalem has been for more than 3,000 years the beating heart of the Jewish people and its only capital.”
Jerusalem has been labeled a point of contention in Israeli–Palestinian relations for decades. The latest chapter in the controversy started when Jordan invaded and occupied the eastern part of the city during the 1948 War of Independence, but Israel managed to beat back the Hashemite Kingdom during the 1967 defensive Six-Day War, reuniting the city as the capital of Israel. However, despite historical and archaeological evidence proving the Jewish ties to Jerusalem dating back millennia, the Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city as their historic own, laying claim to it as the capital of their future state. The majority of the international community sides with the Palestinians, failing to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and thus opting to establish embassies in Tel Aviv.
All this changed in December 2017. After 70 years of labeling Jerusalem an occupied, contested or international city and following seven decades of denying Jewish ties to the City of Gold, the US became one of the first nations in the world to recognize the city’s true status when former President Donald Trump chose to break with decades of US and international policy to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the City of Gold. Guatemala followed suit in May 2018. Since then, a number of countries have pledged to do the same. To date, none—except for Kosovo—has made good on that promise.
The unfulfilled promises may be ascribed to tremendous international pressure. For example, Turkey, a close ally of Kosovo, advised the Eastern European nation to change its mind about the location of its embassy, warning that an embassy in Jerusalem may have serious repercussions for Turkish–Kosovar relations in the future.
The Palestinian Authority foamed at the mouth in outrage at the Czech Republic, lambasting Prague for its “flagrant violation of international law” and its “blatant attack on the Palestinian people and their rights.”
For its part, the Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit bemoaned the fact that “the legal status of Jerusalem will be affected by the decision of one country or another to open representative offices. East Jerusalem,” Gheit emphasized, “is an occupied land under international law.
Gheit failed to mention how his opinion of international principles pertained to the Czech office, seeing that it is located in what the international community describes as West Jerusalem.
Posted on March 15, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 15, 2021)
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