Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Wednesday that the Czech Republic has agreed to begin a three-stage process of moving its diplomatic representation in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The process will begin next month, with the opening of an honorary consulate in Jerusalem, followed by Czech trade and tourism institutions later this year and finally by moving the embassy itself.
“The time has come for historic justice to be done,” Hotovely said during a state visit to Prague. Hotovely praised Czech President Miloš Zeman as “one of the first world leaders to have spoken four years ago about the importance of moving the country’s embassy.
“In light of the special relationship between our two countries, we expect to celebrate the opening of the Czech embassy in Jerusalem soon,” Hotovely said.
Following a Prague Castle event to honor Israel’s 70th anniversary – the first-ever ceremony to celebrate another country’s independence – the Czech foreign ministry said in a statement that Prague wanted to “strengthen our presence in Jerusalem and help to develop mutual co-operation in the whole spectrum of areas, after Zeman ended his remarks with the traditional Jewish hope of “next year in Jerusalem.”
Despite the obvious warmth between Hotovely and Zeman, however, the relocation of the Czech embassy to Jerusalem does not appear imminent. As president, Zeman’s authority to affect foreign policy decisions is limited. Furthermore, Czech media reported that the foreign ministry also hurried to clarify that diplomatic moves in Jerusalem would not impact Prague’s fealty to the European Union position that Jerusalem should ultimately be shared, with the western part of the city serving as Israel’s capital and the eastern half going to the Palestinians.
Nevertheless, Israel’s ambassador to Prague Daniel Meron thanked Zeman for his consistent friendship and support of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. warm friendship in Czech and then quoted from a letter sent by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Czech President.
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, a member of Hotovely’s Likud faction, added that Zeman’s move would “without question” encourage other countries to move their embassies to the capital. “We in the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ministry will do everything we can in order to help speed up the move. for more than a year, we have been working with the foreign ministry on a broad international plan to improve the international standing of Jerusalem.
“There is no question that the process of moving foreign embassies to Jerusalem is an important move in the struggle for the status of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state for generations to come,” Elkin said.