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PM Babiš against moving Czech embassy to Jerusalem

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Prague, Dec 8 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister-designate Andrej Babis (ANO) does not agree with a transfer of the Czech embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as no new conflicts should be provoked in the Middle East, he told Czech Radio on Friday, in reaction to President Milos Zeman’s support for this step.

On Thursday, Zeman welcomed the plan of U.S. President Donald Trump to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and in line with it, Zeman called on the Czech Republic and other European Union member states to do the same.

This week, Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and he announced that the U.S. embassy would be moved there. Now it is seated in Tel Aviv along with the embassies of other countries.

“This idea by President Trump is not good… We are a small country, but the big ones should be striving for peace. We must be fighting against the situations where some conflict is erupting again and where protests will occur, not to mention assassinations,” Babis told Czech Radio.

It is not needed to stir up further conflicts in the region, he added.

Babis supported the position of the European Union, which takes a reserved stance on Trump’s proposal.

“The EU has its position on it and we of course feel solidarity with it in foreign policy. I think we should not support the decision of President Trump,” he said.

Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said the president respects the view of the prime minister-designate but he does not share it.

“Andrej Babis has not dealt with foreign policy until now and it will probably take some time before he becomes well versed in it,” Ovcacek said on Twitter.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the Czech Republic considers Jerusalem the future capital of both Israel and the Palestinian state.

“We may be considering transferring the embassy of the Czech Republic from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem only on the basis of results of talks with the key partners in the region and in the world,” the ministry said on Wednesday.

Outgoing Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said in September that cooperation would be needed, among others with Israel alone, and that Prague was not planning to move the embassy to Jerusalem for the time being.

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