JERUSALEM, Israel – The European Union warned Serbia and Kosovo on Monday that they could jeopardize their hopes of membership in the institution if they follow through with plans to open embassies in Jerusalem.
"There is no EU member state with an embassy in Jerusalem," European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said.
"Any diplomatic steps that could call into question the EU's common position on Jerusalem are a matter of serious concern and regret."
The EU has long held that Jerusalem’s status must be decided through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians as part of a peace deal.
The warning comes after President Donald Trump announced last week that Serbia and Kosovo had agreed to normalize economic ties as part of a US-brokered deal that signals progress between the two Balkan nations that have been plagued by conflict for decades. Part of the US-brokered deal calls for Serbia to move its embassy to Jerusalem by July 2021, and mutual recognition between Israel and Kosovo.
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Serbia and confirmed that Kosovo and Israel will work towards establishing diplomatic relations.
Kosovo’s parliament declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Israel did not recognize the move. Netanyahu said Kosovo will open an embassy in Jerusalem which will make it the first Muslim-majority country to open an embassy in the city if it follows through on its pledge.
“We will continue efforts so that additional European countries will transfer their embassies to Jerusalem,” said Netanyahu.
Following Serbia and Kosovo’s announcement, Malawi’s president said on Saturday that he also plans to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem.
Malawi is a majority Christian African nation and currently has no embassy in Jerusalem. President Lazarus Chakwera, an evangelical, has said Malawi will undergo a series of reforms since becoming president in July.
“The reforms will also include a review of our diplomatic presence, including our resolve to have new diplomatic missions in Lagos, Nigeria and Jerusalem, Israel. I will be sharing more details about this in the near future,” he declared.
If Malawi follows through on its plans, it will become the first African country to open an embassy in Jerusalem.
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