JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Kosovo opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem on Sunday, joining the United States and Guatemala as the only countries with embassies in a city whose status is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Muslim-majority Kosovo promised to locate its embassy in Jerusalem when it established diplomatic ties with Israel last year under US sponsorship.
Kosovo’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter that with the embassy’s opening, “the pledge given in the Oval Office today is finally fulfilled”.
Israel sees its new ties with Kosovo as part of its broader normalization with Arab and Muslim countries under agreements sponsored by former US President Donald Trump.
Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the opening of Kosovo’s embassy in Jerusalem contradicted UN resolutions and aimed to “weaken the Palestinian cause”.
No date was immediately announced for a formal opening ceremony.
On Thursday, the Czech Republic opened a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, a branch of its embassy in Tel Aviv, a move that drew condemnation from the Palestinians and Arab League.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to forging a peace deal 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 annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 conflict in a move that has not won international recognition.
Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Nick Macfie