Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Czech representatives hail prize for Zeman as recognition of tie with Israel

20 September 2017

Prague, Sept 19 (CTK) - Czech politicians consider the awarding of President Milos Zeman by a U.S. Jewish fund a step in appreciation of Prague's long support for Israel and they positively assess Zeman's call on democratic states to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, they told CTK on Tuesday.

The American Gershon Jacobson Jewish Continuity Foundation (GJCF) bestowed the Warrior for Truth award on Zeman at a gala evening organised by the Algemeiner weekly in New York on Monday.

"Since Jerusalem's status has had an extraordinary position in the Jewish nation's history for 3,000 years, I consider the idea of the embassies' transfer logical, and I would support it in the [Czech] government's debate," Culture Minister and Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) deputy chairman Daniel Herman said.

Agriculture Minister Marian Jurecka (KDU-CSL), too, said he would support the move, if proposed by the Foreign Ministry.

However, the opposition Communists (KSCM) do not agree with the idea.

The Foreign Ministry said it was not planning to move the embassy to Jerusalem so far.

Foreign Minister and Social Democrat (CSSD) deputy chairman Lubomir Zaoralek said, through his spokesman, that his office had long known Zeman's view of the embassy's relocation.

"We must always consult our partners, including Israel, on such a transfer. We do not plan to relocate our embassy to Jerusalem at the moment," Zaoralek said.

Human Rights Minister Jan Chvojka (CSSD) said Prague should respect the right of a state it recognises to freely choose its capital. If Israel asked the EU countries to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, I would be for us to comply with the request," Chvojka said.

Opposition TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek, too, said he respects it that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

"Of course, I would like the embassies to be there [in Jerusalem]. However, the diplomats who deal with the local situation must say whether this would contribute to a peace deal or whether it would delay it...A peace deal is the number one priority," he said.

Asked whether Zeman's New York statement was appropriate, Kalousek said Zeman knew well who he was speaking to.

"He likes saying what other people want to hear," Kalousek added.

Opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy Jana Cernochova said she assesses Zeman's appeal positively as an appeal outweighing all current tendencies to distort the past and facts and challenge Israel's right to control Jerusalem.

"Our country belongs to a minority that is capable and willing to take a clearly pro-Israeli stance in relation to the Middle East issue," Cernochova said.

The Mayors' and Independents (STAN) chairman Petr Gazdik, too, said he would agree with the transfer of the embassies.

He said Jerusalem is simply the capital of Israel.

"I am aware that a U.N. resolution exists, but it is necessary to discuss the issue, also in the U.N., which Milos Zeman has a chance to do now," Gazdik said, alluding to Zeman's participation in the U.N. General Assembly.

KSCM chairman Vojtech Filip is opposed to the idea.

"I do not consider this a good idea. The reasons why the embassies are seated in Tel Aviv persist and unfortunately, the "Roadmap" of the (peaceful) settlement of the crisis is not being fulfilled," Filip told CTK.

Zeman proposed that the Czechs move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem four years ago. The then Palestinian ambassador to Prague said that Zeman's statement had harmed the Czech Republic's relations with Palestine and other Arab countries.

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