This Muslim-Majority Country Would Have Voted With Trump on Jerusalem Embassy Move

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Kosovo's President Hashim Thaçi looks on during a memorial ceremony dedicated to missing people from the Kosovo War in Pristina on December 30, 2017. The Kosovo war (1998-1999) resulted in the death of around 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians. Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty

The president of Kosovo said the Balkan statelet would have supported President Donald Trump's decision to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would have made it the only Muslim-majority nation to do so.

The move, which has angered the Muslim world, means the U.S. effectively recognizes the contested city as the capital of Israel. Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of any future state. The territory, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, hosts some of the holiest shrines in both Islam and Judaism.

But Hashim Thaçi, a former paramilitary leader who fought in the Kosovo War against the Serbs and is nicknamed Gjarpëri, or "The Snake," recently told the Albanian newspaper Express that if his country was handed full membership of the global body, it would vote "all the time" with the U.S., even on the resolution motioned last month to protest Trump's decision.

Israel itself does not recognize Kosovo as an independent nation-state. More than 100 countries have done so, but Russia and China remain obstacles to its bid for independence at the U.N. Security Council, where both Moscow and Beijing can wield vetoes.

Thaçi met with Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last September in New York, and invited Trump to visit Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. According to local media, he said their meeting was "exceptionally friendly, warm."

"The Head of State thanked President Trump for his personal support for Kosovo," his office said in a statement, calling the U.S. a "strategic partner" and saying the support of Washington was "crucial to the peace, stability and overall development of Kosovo and the region."

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Kosovo's President Hashim Thaçi looks on during a memorial ceremony dedicated to missing people from the Kosovo War in Pristina on December 30, 2017. The Kosovo war (1998-1999) resulted in the death of around 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians. Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty

Thaçi told Pristina-based broadcaster RTV21, "President Trump, like all other U.S. presidents, has a clear vision for Kosovo. It is unique support to our country. He said that Kosovo is a wonderful country and that we are a wonderful people."

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his cabinet and the Israeli far right lauded the move as a recognition of reality, on the grounds that Jerusalem had always been Israel's capital.

Thus far, Guatemala is the only country to announce that it will move its embassy to Jerusalem too, alongside Trump.

Last month, the United Nations General Assembly voted on a nonbinding resolution that condemned Trump's decision. U.N. members reaffirmed that the city's status should be agreed upon between Israelis and Palestinians through direct negotiations, and that Trump should reverse his move.

A total of 128 countries voted for the resolution, while nine voted against, 21 did not show up for the vote and 35 abstained. The countries and territories who opposed the resolution included the U.S., Israel, Togo, Micronesia, Guatemala, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Honduras.