Hashim Thaci Loves Israel


Dinah Spritzer
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Hashim Thaci may be the tough-talking prime minister of Kosovo and ex-commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, but he gushes over Israel like a kid recalling a trip to Disney World.

“I love Israel. What a great country! Kosovo is a friend of Israel,” the grinning Thaci, 39, says in a Pristina hotel crowned by a miniature statue of liberty. “I met so many great leaders when I was there — Netanyahu, Sharon — I really admire them,” Thaci continued, referring to former Israeli prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon.

With the province of Kosovo preparing to declare independence from Serbia following years of failed negotiations and the expiration of a United Nations deadline on Dec. 10 for an agreement with the Serbs, Thaci is poised to become the prime minister of Europe’s newest country. Kosovo is home to some 2.2 million people, 90 percent of whom are ethnic Albanians with Muslim roots.  

Despite Kosovo having the most pro-American vibe in Europe and a profoundly secular stance on Islam, as well as Thaci’s supportive line on Israel, some Israeli analysts are warning that recognizing its independence from Serbia is not in Israel’s interest.