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Prague considering embassy in Jerusalem in future

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Prague/Jerusalem, March 18 (CTK) – The Czech Republic is considering some form of its diplomatic representation in Jerusalem in a reasonable future, Irena Valentova, from the Foreign Ministry’s press section, said on Sunday, citing Minister’s Martin Stropnicky’s words, in reaction to an Israeli TV report.

Diplomacy head Stropnicky said so in late February.

The Channel 10 Israeli TV reported on Saturday that the Czech Republic started checking the possibilities of a transfer of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem under the pressure of Israel.

“The Czech Republic has an open approach to the Jerusalem issue and will not make taboo of it. At the same time, we want neither to disintegrate the EU position nor to block a dialogue with Palestine,” Valentova noted.

“Everything will depend on the development of the peace process and on the situation in other countries that can with time agree to open their embassies in Jerusalem,” she added.

The United States plans to open its embassy in Israel in May after U.S. President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December.

In the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman supports moving the embassy to Jerusalem, while PM Andrej Babis is opposed to it.

According to the Channel 10, Israeli Ambassador to Prague Daniel Meron wrote in a secret message to the Israeli Foreign Ministry last week that the Czech Republic had launched an internal assessment of the possibilities and risks connected with the embassy transfer.

Meron wrote that Prague became more open to the transfer because of the pressure Israel was exerting after the U.S. and Guatemala announced to move their embassies to Jerusalem. He also said Babis was under the influence of the pro-Israeli public opinion.

According to Meron, Israel must keep striving for public support for the Jerusalem issue and he recommended to use the influence of Zeman as a persuasive advocate of Israel. Meron also pointed to Zeman’s intention to celebrate the anniversary of Israel’s independence in his residence on April 25, Israeli TV reported.

Valentova told CTK that she cannot comment on the content of the correspondence since it was not addressed to the Czech Foreign Ministry and therefore she did not have it at her disposal.

Meron also wrote that a ministerial group, including Zeman’s adviser, a deputy foreign minister and the PM’s adviser, was allegedly set up to negotiate about the possibility to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem, the Israeli TV reported.

The Israeli media remind of an article in the Czech daily Lidove noviny (LN) from March on Zeman assigning his team to push for the plan of the Czech embassy’s transfer to Jerusalem. In late February, an inter-ministerial working group for Israel of high ministerial and government officials as well as Presidential Office foreign section head Rudolf Jindrak met at the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters, LN wrote.

The Times of Israel daily writes that after consultations with its partners in the EU, the Czech Foreign Ministry is against the transfer of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Last December, the Czech Republic abstained from the vote on a document condemning Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at the U.N. General Assembly. A total of 128 countries voted for the resolution, nine were against it, 35 abstained from the vote and 21 did not attend the session, the server i24 writes.

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