Czech Republic Won't Relocate Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem, PM Says

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Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis addresses lawmakers during a Parliament session in Prague, Czech Republic.
Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis addresses lawmakers during a Parliament session in Prague, Czech Republic. Credit: Petr David Josek/AP

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babi said this week his country will not break UN and EU policy and relocate their embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Babi said the Czech Republic is examining the possibility of relocating its cultural center from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem instead. The possibility of opening an honorary consulate in Jerusalem is also being examined – even though one already exists.

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Israel's Foreign Ministry has said in the past that the Czech Republic may move its embassy to Jerusalem and Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely is planning to visit the country soon to try to convince it to do so.

Last December, Czech President Milo Zeman welcomed the unilateral decision by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying he was "truly happy."

"Four years ago," he said, "I visited Israel and said I would consider relocating our embassy. Sooner or later we will join the U.S. Every nation has the right to decide what its capital is."

However, the Czech Foreign Ministry said at the time the country only recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel's capital and that the embassy will move "in accordance with negotiations" between Israel and the Palestinians. Last May, the local parliament voted for recognizing Jerusalem within the 1967 borders as Israel's capital.

The statement by the Czech prime minister joins that of Romania's president, who on Friday said he objects to his government's attempt to relocate its embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said the country's prime minister, Viorica Dncil, had not consulted him before submitting the draft resolution calling for the embassy's relocation, and that such a move could only occur once a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is completed.

In February, the United States announced it would relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem this May. According to its statement, the move would coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel's first Independence Day. Israel marks its independence day according to the Jewish calendar, which fell this weekend, while the U.S. move is expected to take place on May 17. The U.S. said at the time it would initially be located in southern Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood. After opening, the site would house U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and a small team of diplomats.

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