By Aneta Zachová
(EurActiv) — Moving the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the US did with its embassy in Israel in 2018, is an idea supported by Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS, ECR) but not by the government’s coalition partners.
Czechia is historically a strong supporter of Israel and would be another step in support of the Jewish state. The move, however, is controversial as Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their capital, and it is home to many sacred sites for Jews and Muslims.
The Israeli prime minister’s home and the parliament are in West Jerusalem on the side of the city Israel has controlled since the 40s. The east side was captured by Israel in 1967 and is considered an occupied territory by much of the international community.
Palestine wants to divide the city and make East Jerusalem its capital officially.
Currently, Czech diplomacy has an office in Jerusalem, while the embassy is based in Tel Aviv.
“I have personally been a proponent of relocating the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem for a long time. I am convinced that this would be a desirable step at present. I intend to discuss the specific course of action in this situation with my coalition partners,” Fiala said recently.
“This is a matter that can be resolved in a matter of months,” he added.
However, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates, Greens/EFA) is against such a move.
“I certainly perceive the long-standing call of part of Czech society for the relocation of the Czech embassy to Jerusalem, but as the Foreign Minister responsible for this issue, I must state that three basic conditions for such a move are not met at this time,” Lipavský said.
Lipavský is convinced that moving the embassy would violate international law, contradict the EU line, and could even be viewed as a security risk and a possible factor in further escalating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Given that the foreign minister’s decision is key to the move, the prime minister’s idea could fail.
Czech President Petr Pavel has also raised objections.
“In a situation where Israel is in a state of war, the debate about moving the embassy is inappropriate. At present, it is necessary to maintain unity in support for Israel both within Czech politics and at the level of the European Union and other international platforms,” Pavel said.