Kosovo, Israel ink cooperation deal a year after Jerusalem embassy opens

The ministers signed agreements in the areas of culture, education, science and film coproduction.

The flags of Israel, Kosovo and the US are seen on a desk during a virtual ceremony to sign an agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and Kosovo in the Israeli foreign ministry in Jerusalem February 1, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
The flags of Israel, Kosovo and the US are seen on a desk during a virtual ceremony to sign an agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and Kosovo in the Israeli foreign ministry in Jerusalem February 1, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Israel and Kosovo further cemented relations with a series of bilateral agreements on Monday. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with his Kosovar counterpart, Donica Gërvalla-Schwarz, who visited Jerusalem for the first time.

They discussed bilateral ties, aid and the war in Ukraine and signed agreements in the areas of culture, education, science and film co-production, the Foreign Ministry said. The Kosovar foreign minister also signed a Holocaust education agreement with Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan.

Gërvalla-Schwarz is the highest-level official to visit Israel from Pristina since Kosovo opened its embassy in Jerusalem last March, making it the first Muslim-majority state to do so.

Kosovo was one of the Muslim-majority countries that established relations with Israel in 2020. The normalization was separate from the Abraham Accords and was part of a US-mediated agreement between Serbia and Kosovo.

Israel became the 117th country to recognize Kosovo’s independence, which was declared in 2008. Jerusalem had previously been reticent to do so out of concern it would set a precedent for recognition of a Palestinian state.

 Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej visiting Kosovo, April 12, 2022.  (credit: REGIONAL COOPERATION MINISTRY) Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej visiting Kosovo, April 12, 2022. (credit: REGIONAL COOPERATION MINISTRY)

Serbia had said it would open an embassy in Jerusalem, but it did not do so after Israel recognized Kosovo as a sovereign state.

Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej became the first Israeli cabinet minister to visit Kosovo last month. He joined Kosovo’s health minister on a visit to a local hospital to which Israel donated 90 wheelchairs. They met with Israeli doctors working with the Israeli humanitarian organization Save a Child’s Heart who traveled to Kosovo to diagnose children who need heart surgery.

Frej said there was “great importance in strengthening the ties between Israel and this Muslim state.”