The reaction of official Belgrade since the events of October 7 can best be described as muted and discreet. President Aleksandar Vučić and Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić touched on the issue a few times, but only briefly. Among the few official steps Serbia took are the votes in the UN General Assembly. This discretion reflects the strategic culture of Serbia’s diplomacy that President Vučić in September 2022 briefly summarized as: dodging. This does not mean, however, that Serbian society is not reacting to the scenes from Gaza.
The prime aim of Serbia’s foreign policy concerns the final status of Kosovo, and it remaining within the sovereign territory of Serbia. Belgrade’s claim hinges on respect for international law universally, especially when sovereignty elsewhere is concerned. This is why Serbia has not recognized the territorial changes induced by Russia in Ukraine and Georgia. Applied to the cases of Israel and Palestine, both of whom are recognized by Serbia, Belgrade adheres to the two-state solution, with Israel in its pre-1967 borders. When it comes to the status of Jerusalem, Serbia in 2020 decided to transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem when it signed the Washington Agreement under the auspices of the former US President Donald Trump. But nothing was said about Serbia accepting Jerusalem, partly or totally, as Israeli territory. The move from Tel Aviv also came to nothing. Serbia dragged its feet until Trump was voted out of office. It has since excused itself by the fact that Israel has recognized Kosovo as independent.