Prague opened a Jerusalem branch of its Israeli embassy last week in a move denounced as a violation of international law.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Arab League condemned the Czech Republic’s opening of a diplomatic office in Jerusalem as a violation of international law.
Prague on Thursday opened a Jerusalem branch of its Israeli embassy, located in Tel Aviv.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis attended the inauguration, two weeks after Israel sent 5,000 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to the Czech Republic as part of a “vaccine diplomacy” program that then spearheaded the ‘under legal review and was frozen.
The Palestinian foreign ministry on Saturday called the Prague decision “a blatant attack on the Palestinian people and their rights, a flagrant violation of international law,” and said it would damage prospects for peace.
In Cairo, the secretary general of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said in a statement: “The legal status of Jerusalem will be affected by the decision of one country or another to open representative offices. East Jerusalem is occupied land under international law. “
Stressing that the Jerusalem office was not an embassy, the Czech Foreign Ministry said it aimed to strengthen Prague’s strategic partnership with Israel and improve services for Czech citizens.
“The creation of the office has no impact on the will of the Czech Republic to further develop its political and economic relations with the Palestinian Authority,” he said.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long conflict in the Middle East, with the Palestinian Authority insisting that East Jerusalem – illegally occupied by Israel since 1967 – should serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.
” Strategic partners
Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, Babis said Prague was a “strategic partner” of Israel, recalling that after 1948 Czechoslovakia had helped it maintain its regained independence by sending shipments of fighter planes.
At the inauguration ceremony, Babis said that this “represents another milestone in our cooperation, it proves that we see the importance of this great city”.
Only two countries have full-fledged embassies in Jerusalem: the United States – after former US President Donald Trump broke with decades of US policy to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – and Guatemala.
The Czech Republic is one of the strongest supporters of Israel in the European Union.
Although he formally supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he was named in a pre-trial ruling by the International Criminal Court last month as one of the countries supporting Israel’s argument that the court should not investigate war crimes in the occupied Palestinian. territories.
Babis said Thursday that his country viewed the ICC’s decision to open an investigation as “unfortunate,” adding: “Although we respect the independence of the court, the Czech Republic does not consider Palestine a state, so the Court has no jurisdiction over it. “
Last month, Israel and Kosovo established diplomatic ties, with the Muslim-majority country recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
At the time, the Israeli foreign minister said he had approved “Kosovo’s official request to open an embassy in Jerusalem”.
Kosovo has also said it is ready to install its Israeli mission in Jerusalem, in return for recognition of Israel, as it seeks to further legitimize its 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. and the state.