Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas inaugurated a Palestinian embassy in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Thursday, the Ma’an news agency reported.
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic as well as several Arab ambassadors and the PA ambassador to Serbia attended the opening.
After the meeting, President Nikolic reportedly announced that Serbia “would like to see Palestine and Israel resume negotiations as soon as possible,” Ma’an reported, citing a Serbian news network.
Despite “Palestine” not being a country, several countries in Europe and South America have opened embassies for the PA in recent years. As well, several European countries – such as Britain and Sweden – have passed resolutions recognizing “the state of Palestine”
In 2012, after the PA’s bid to be upgraded in the UN as a non-member observer state, Abbas began taking steps to officially name the areas he controls “the State of Palestine”.
He first ordered all of the PA’s institutions to stop using the term “Palestinian National Authority” on official documents and replace it with the term “the State of Palestine”.
Abbas then issued new guidelines ordering the PA government to re-issue passports, identity cards, registration documents, vehicle licenses, driver’s licenses, stamps and postmarks.
With regard to Serbia, earlier this year The Guardian revealed that Serbia granted citizenship to Abbas’ long time rival Mohammed Dahlan and several of his top political supporters between February 2013 and June 2014.
The alleged move raised tensions between PA and Serbia, Ma’an reported, with a spokesman for Abbas saying at the time that the PA planned to send a letter to the Serbian president to stop the process.
A former security chief in Gaza under Fatah, Dahlan was ousted from the party in 2011 and fled to Dubai. His home in Ramallah was later raided by PA security forces.
The longtime rivalry between Dahlan and Abbas has resurfaced as Dahlan is considering to run against Abbas in future elections.