Prague (AFP) – The Czech Republic announced on Wednesday the reopening of its honorary consulate in Jerusalem as President Milos Zeman reiterated his wish to move the Czech embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
“The Czech Republic has decided to open in May an honorary consulate in West Jerusalem, and before the end of the year a Czech centre, also in West Jerusalem,” the ministry said in a statement.
Opened in the early 1990s, the Czech honorary consulate in Jerusalem was closed in 2016 due to the death of the honorary consul, spokeswoman Michaela Lagronova told AFP.
US President Donald Trump broke with decades of policy in December to announce US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a pledge to move the embassy, drawing near global condemnation and enraging the Palestinians.
It ruptured generations of international consensus that Jerusalem’s status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
President Zeman, known for his pro-Israel stance, repeated Wednesday evening his desire to see his country’s embassy transferred to Jerusalem.
Speaking at Prague Castle, he said he remembered discussing it with Benjamin Netanyahu, quoting the Israeli Prime Minister as saying: “If you do, I will give you my own house.”
Zeman added: “By the way, I strongly refuse the accusation that we copy the United States of America. Contrary to that, the United States of America copied my proposal.”
He also criticised objections to the idea from European nations, calling them “cowards”.
The Czech Embassy (of Czechoslovakia then Czech Republic) has been in Tel Aviv since 1949, except during the interruption of diplomatic relations under the former communist regime in Prague between 1967 and 1990.
Netanyahu responded in a letter, in which he said: “I am delighted that I will be able to welcome you towards the end of this year to Israel, where, as I hope, we can open the Czech Embassy in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish state.”
Any decision to move the embassy would first need to be approved by the Czech government.