By Jeremy Gillick
In February of 2008, the Republic of Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. Now, as the country of two million–almost all of whom are Muslim–celebrates its first birthday, Israel wonders whether or not to recognize it.
Over 50 nations have already done so, including the United States, the U.K., Germany, France and Turkey, but Israel has thus far avoided the issue entirely. As Ha’aretz puts it, “Jerusalem is hesitant to endorse the independence of a break-away Muslim country, in light of the implications it could have for Israel with regard to the Palestinians.”
“Israel may also view recognition of the breakaway republic as one that could potentially lead to a domino effect which could encourage other contested areas to declare independence, and possibly raise international calls for Palestinian statehood.”
In worrying about the potential repercussions, though, Israel overlooks an inconvenient truth: Kosovo’s Albanian Muslims are arguably more supportive of Israel than Muslims anywhere else in the world.
In some ways, the dilemma parallels Israel’s Armenian problem. Although Israel has a sympathetic Armenian population, it has refused to recognize the Armenian genocide for fear of damaging its relationship with Turkey.
Whereas the evidence might justify Israel’s position in the case of Turkey and the Armenian genocide, since Turkey is a crucial ally in a region generally unfriendly to Israel, in the case of Kosovo, Israel’s stance is based largely on speculation.
And if Israel wants a Palestinian state, which, by most accounts, it does, what better way to symbolize that than by recognizing Kosovo’s independence?