Prague, Czech Republic – A group of twenty six senators, representing a little less than one third of the upper house of Parliament, has urged the government to move the Czech Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, CTK reported.
Czech senators lobby in favour of embassy move to Jerusalem
Speaking in front of reporters during a press conference, Christian-Democratic representative Zdeněk Papoušek (KDU-CSL) claimed that more senators could join the initiative, which is also supported by Senate chairman Jaroslav Kubera (ODS).
In 2017, the United States controversially announced they would be moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus officially recognizing the Holy City as the capital of Israel. The EU has refused to take such a step, arguing that recognizing Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel would derail international negotiations and put the last nail in the coffin of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The Czech political landscape remains, as elsewhere, divided on the issue. While Czech President Milos Zeman has long been an outspoken advocate of relocating the embassy to Jerusalem, the government, which has the final say in matters of foreign policy, has so far refused to do so and break ranks with the official EU position. During a visit to Israel in February, Prime Minister Andrej Babis repeated that the move was not on the agenda.
According to the latest reports, only two countries have moved their embassies to Jerusalem: the United States and Guatemala. Four other states are reportedly considering relocating, including Romania and Australia.
Israel seeks EU allies in Central Europe
“I firmly believe that my fourth visit to Israel will be the opening of the Czech embassy”, a hopeful Milos Zeman declared last year in Jerusalem, where he inaugurated the Czech House (comprising business, trade, tourism and cultural offices), which supporters of the relocation have depicted as a possible forerunner for an embassy move.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been keen to cultivate close relations with the Visegrad Group, has presented Milos Zeman as an “unsurpassed friend” of Israel. Last March, Hungary officially inaugurated the opening of a trade mission in Jerusalem, becoming the first EU nation to open an office with diplomatic status in the Holy City.
But Israel’s relations with the V4 have also suffered a few setbacks. In February, Poland and Israel had a diplomatic falling out after Netanyahu claimed some Poles had collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II. A few months later, the Polish ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski was briefly assaulted, and spat on, by an Israeli national in the streets of Tel Aviv.