Diplomacy

Czech President Announces Plan to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

The Czech Republic’s president announced that his nation will begin a three-step process to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, The Times of Israel reported Wednesday.

President Miloš Zeman announced that beginning with the appointment of an honorary counsel in Jerusalem, the Czech Republic will begin moving its diplomatic missions to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. It isn’t clear, however, how long the process will take.

The announcement was greeted with approval by Israeli politicians though Acting Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis opposes the embassy move in accordance with European Union policy.

“There will be, I hope, three phases of removal of the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Zeman told guests at Prague Castle at a celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary. It was the first time another nation’s anniversary was celebrated at the castle, the president’s residence. Last year Zeman hosted a Jerusalem Day celebration at the castle.

“The second phase, well, we have many, many institutions: Czech Invest, Czech Trade, Czech Tourism, Czech Center. And all those institutions are to be transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Zeman added.

The actual move of the embassy would follow at an undetermined future date.

The Czech Foreign Ministry later clarified the policy in a statement that said, “According to usual diplomatic practice, States have their embassies in the capitals of the receiving States. This is why the Czech Republic has decided, as a first step, to open an honorary consulate (led by Honorary Consul Mr. Dan Propper) in May and a new Czech Center by the end of this year, both in West Jerusalem.” However, the statement also said, “The Czech Republic fully respects common policy of the European Union, which considers Jerusalem as the future capital of both the State of Israel and the future State of Palestine.”

Zeman joked that he had first suggested moving the embassy to Jerusalem four years ago and that it was actually President Donald Trump who was imitating him when he announced the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem.

“The president of the Czech Republic is a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people and has always seen Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people,” Israel’s Ambassador in Prague, Daniel Meron, told The Times of Israel.

[Photo: מארק ניימן Government Press Office of Israel – Mark Nayman / WikiCommons]