Czech president wants country’s embassy move to Jerusalem expedited

Moving the Czech embassy to from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a “top priority” for Milos Zeman, but not for his foreign ministry.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Milos Zeman, recently elected to his second five-year term as president of the Czech Republic, would like to speed up the process of moving his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, the Lidové noviny newspaper reported on Thursday.

The Americans announced in February that as an initial step they would be turning their consulate in Jerusalem into an embassy on May 14, coinciding with Israel’s 70th anniversary. Daniel Meron, Israel’s ambassador to Prague, tweeted that according to the Czech paper, Zeman would like his country to join US President Donald Trump’s initiative in that regard.

While Meron tweeted “US: 1, Czech Republic: 2?” he was corrected by responders who reminded him that Guatemala would be the second, as President Jimmy Morales announced on Sunday that his country would move its embassy a mere two days after the United States.

When Trump declared America’s formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December, Prague was quick to follow, although the foreign ministry limited the country’s statement by saying that it “recognizes Jerusalem to be in fact the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967,” i.e. only western Jerusalem.

At the time, Zeman was warm in his praise of the idea, adding that the Czech Republic could have led the way on the issue early in his first term.

“It makes me truly happy because, as I said during my visit to Israel four years ago, I would like to transfer the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem, and had it happened, we would have been the first to do so,” he noted. “Now we may sooner or later follow the United States. In any case, it is still better than nothing.”

Now it seems that the president would like it to be a case of sooner rather than later, as the report stated that he considers the move a “top priority.” Zeman’s words follow a meeting held in Israel in late February with a Czech interministerial working group to discuss the transfer.

The report also stated, however, that after consulting its EU colleagues, the Czech foreign ministry objects to moving the embassy at this time and does not even own property in Jerusalem.