Czech president pledges to move embassy to Jerusalem

Czech President Miloš Zeman addressed the Knesset on Monday, calling for Europe to stand with Israel and referencing an impending Czech embassy move to Jerusalem.

By JNS.org and World Israel News Staff

During a speech in a special session held in his honor at the Knesset on Monday, Czech President Miloš Zeman referred to his nation as Israel’s closest ally in Europe, and referred to himself as “Israel’s best friend” in the Czech Republic.

In his speech, Zeman focused on “solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people” and the battle against “Islamic terrorism.”

Zeman also reiterated his support for moving the Czech Republic’s official embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“I am no dictator unfortunately,” he jested, “but I promise I’ll do my best in order to realize the third step, after the honorary consulate and after the Czech House [in Jerusalem], and you can guess what is to be the third step,” Zeman added, referring to his previously announced three-stage plan to move the Czech embassy to Jerusalem.

Earlier in the day, Zeman expressed doubts that the creation of a Palestinian state would be helpful in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I was inspired by your idea about one state with two nations. And I know this idea is provocative. Any big and great idea is provocative,” Zeman told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during an official meeting in Jerusalem.

“I wonder what will be your arguments for this idea because for many, many decades, there is a discussion about two independent states,” he said. “But frankly, I do not see an independent state in Gaza because I understand Hamas as a terror organization and not as a state.”

As part of his trip, Zeman will inaugurate the aforementioned Czech House in Jerusalem on Tuesday, which is generally accepted to be a first step before inaugurating an official Czech embassy in Jerusalem.

“In the current situation, our friendship is more important than ever,” Rivlin told Zeman. “‏We welcome your support for the eventual move ‏of the embassy of the Czech Republic ‏to Jerusalem. ‏Jerusalem is the city of peace. ‏May peace begin in Jerusalem, and may it spread from Jerusalem to all the world.”

In April, Zeman announced that the Czech Republic would begin the process of moving the Czech mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, Zeman is scheduled to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum and to have lunch with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Czech embassy has been located in Tel Aviv since 1949. Israel and the Czech Republic have enjoyed diplomatic relations except during the years of the Communist regime in Prague between 1967 and 1990.