Expert: Moving Czech embassy to Jerusalem no breach of law

Prague, April 11 (CTK) – Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would not be a breach of the Czech Republic’s international commitments if the country did not question Jerusalem as the future Palestinian state’s capital at the same time, international law expert Veronika Bilkova has told CTK.

The transfer of the embassy’s location would mean that the country considers Jerusalem Israel’s capital, Bilkova said.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed to CTK on Wednesday that it is considering some representation in Jerusalem.

“Regarding the reports on the moving of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which have been appearing, the ministry said in the past weeks that it is considering some form of representation in Jerusalem in reasonable future,” the ministry said.

The debate on the change of the embassy’s seat was revived after U.S. President Donald Trump announcing last December the intention to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

The Czech Republic, Israel’s traditional ally, did not decline this option. Czech President Milos Zeman supported the transfer before repeatedly.

Bilkova said the international law does not deal with the placement of embassies, but that it was common they were situated in the capital cities. Although moving the embassy to another city does not have to mean the city is recognised as the capital, the case is different regarding Jerusalem since Trump clearly said the transfer would confirm Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, she said.

The same would have to apply to the Czech Republic and moving the embassy would have to be interpreted as the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Bilkova said.

Bilkova reiterated that it was crucial that Jerusalem is recognised as both the capital of Israel and Palestine and that its ultimate status should be defined through negotiations.

Before peace is achieved between Israel and Palestine, the Czech Republic practically recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at the demarcation line from 1967, also considering it the future capital of Palestine, Bilkova mentioned the Foreing Affairs Ministry’s statement after the speech of Trump.

The problem is in the way Israel deals with the issue, Bilkova said.

“It clearly demonstrates that it is not willing to respect the arrangement according to the international law in the specific area and that Jerusalem as a whole is solely its capital,” she said.

According to the ministry, any changes of the Czech representation in Israel will be considered with respect to other states’ standpoints and the development of the peace process. The Czech Republic does not want to diffuse the EU’s common policy in this respect either or block the dialogue with Palestine.