Serbia trying to woo Israel away from normalization with Kosovo

What is the connection between the Serbia-Kosovo agreement and Israel's defense companies? A column by Amir Rapaport

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (L) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Freddie Everett, US State Department

Serbia is here. This week I will discuss something distant that has a surprising influence on Israel's defense industry: the peace agreement between Serbia and Kosovo. We'll skip over the history of the conflict that originated from the long Balkan war, and jump right into the matter at hand. In the framework of his election campaign and the 2020 model of diplomacy, President Donald Trump added another agreement to his collection (in addition to the important agreement between the UAE and Israel, which will be signed on the White House lawn next Thursday). It was reported already that the Americans incorporated into the European peace agreement the moving of Serbia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as well as the establishment of relations between Israel and Kosovo. But how is this connected to Israel's defense companies?   

I learned about this from two senior Serbian officials who came to Israel on an important mission as far as they were concerned: to convince senior Israeli officials not to establish official diplomatic relations with Kosovo and to be satisfied, at most, with the opening of interest sections (it appears that Trump's staff left the question of the level of relations between Israel and Kosovo open, in the framework of the Serbia-Kosovo agreement) 

I met the Serbs Wednesday night in the lobby of their hotel located on the beach in Tel Aviv. They came to Israel directly from the talks in Washington. It followed a meeting they had that day with officials from Israel's Defense Ministry.

My Serbian interlocutors told me that the president of Serbia had already made the decision on the strategic deepening of relations with Israel, following his declaration on the moving of the Serbian embassy to Jerusalem at the last AIPAC conference in the US. As far as I understand, the Serbs are in the process of detaching themselves from the bear hug with Russia whose long arms were extended back in the days of the communist bloc of Eastern Europe. Now the Serbs wish to jump directly into the warm hug of the US.  My interlocutors told me that their country has a lot of business with the UAE, and yes – also an intention to buy a large arms package, in European terms, from the US. Does this remind you of another fresh peace agreement? It appears that there is an arms deal hiding in every peace.     

My Serbian colleagues also told me that while many platforms will be bought in the US, they intend to buy important systems (including cyber solutions) from its ally in the Middle East, namely Israel. What does everything depend on? On the Israeli decision regarding the level of relations with Kosovo. It is possible that the decision will be made in the conversation between the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of Serbia, which is planned for Friday morning. So will Israeli defense companies profit from peace in the Balkans? We'll find out soon.