According to the Czech president’s official website, incumbent Milos Zeman has been a strong advocate of relocating his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for “years”. (Photo: GPO)
According to Czech President Milos Zeman, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly offered to make his own residence in Jerusalem available if the Czech Republic move forward with plans to opens an embassy there.
Speaking at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gala dinner held in Prague last week, the Czech president told those assembled that Netanyahu had offered to lend his personal residence for use as latest embassy in Israel’s capital; although it was possibly made in jest.
A staunch supporter of Israel who has repeatedly championed transferring his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Zeman spoke out to praise American President Donald Trump for acting swiftly and decisively to move his own country’s embassy to the Israeli capital recently.
In May, an honorary Czech consulate to Israel which previously operated from the 1990s to 2016 was reopened, after the acting prime minister, Andrej Babis, declared in April that the country would seek to reinstate its Jerusalem offices. President Zeman later clarified that the consulate opening was one stage in an open-ended effort designed to result in the permanent relocation of the Czech embassy to Jerusalem. In May, the honorary consulate was re-opened.
Zeman recounted a conversation with Netanyahu in which the two discussed the American relocation. “That’s not all, Bibi Netanyahu told me: ‘If you do [the same] I will give you my own house for your embassy’”, Zeman revealed.
“I strongly hope that the offer is still valid because it could greatly reduce the cost of this relocation”, he said with a smile.
While the president favours such a move, it is complicated by the fact that the Czech Republic a member state of the European Union, which voiced opposition to Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.
The general European Union policy as formulated in Brussels holds that any embassy transfers should occur only after the conclusion of a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. Israel contends that this policy denies the basic reality that all its state institutions including parliament, Prime Minister’s residence, President’s residence, national bank and more are all located in Jerusalem. As such, delaying recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is tantamount to questioning its legitimacy.
Buoyed by the American’s bold move, Netanyahu has issued a call to other nations to follow the United States’ example. So far, Guatemala and Paraguay have followed suit, and a raft of other nations are believed to be considering a similar move in the coming months.