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'Palestine victim of Trump's electoral ambitions' after Serbian embassy move: top official

Serbia will be the third country to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 September, 2020

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Recent US-brokered agreements between Israel and the UAE and Kosovo and Serbia are little more than a bid for re-election, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said.
A senior Palestinian official on Friday slammed Serbia's decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem saying it makes "Palestine a victim" of US President Donald Trump's re-election hopes.

"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" in November, tweeted Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

"This, just like the UAE-Israel agreement (to normalise diplomatic ties), isn't about Middle East Peace," he added.

The Trump administration announced on Friday it had brokered an accord to normalise economic ties between Serbia and Kosovo, an agreement that included assurances from Belgrade to relocate the Serbian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Kosovo also agreed to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

Serbia has committed to opening a commercial office in Jerusalem this month and moving its embassy there by July next year.

Washington recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital in late 2017 and moved the US embassy there in May 2018, a move criticised by much of the international community.

Israel considers Jerusalem its undivided capital, while Palestinian officials seek the city's eastern half as the capital of a future state. East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed, a decision widely seen as violating inernational law.

Traditionally most countries have maintained an embassy in Tel Aviv to reflect a neutral stance on the disputed status of Jerusalem.

Serbia will become the third country, after the US and Guatemala, to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

"I thank my friend President Vucic of Serbia for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move their embassy," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday.

The agreement comes just weeks after Trump announced his administration had brokered a deal to normalise ties between Israel and the UAE. Additional Arab states, including Sudan, Bahrain and Oman, have been identified as countries that may soon also normalise relations with Israel.

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