Netanyahu Thanks Czech Republic for Support at UN

In visit to Prague, prime minister says UN vote 'completely ignored Israel's security needs'; Czech Republic only European country that rejected resolution to upgrade Palestinians' status at UN.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Prague on Wednesday to thank his counterpart Petr Necas for friendship and courage in his country's vote at the UN against recognizing a Palestinian state.

The Czech Republic was the only European country and one of nine that voted last week to reject the resolution upgrading the Palestinians' status to a nonmember observer state. It passed 138-9, with 41 abstentions.

During his third visit to Prague in last two years, Netanyahu said in a brief statement to reporters, the UN vote "completely ignored Israel's security needs, it didn't require the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state (and) it didn't even call on them to end the conflict with Israel."

He said Israel has been "committed to a genuine peace" with the Palestinians, but repeated that a two-state solution to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians should be reached only through direct peace talks and not by unilateral moves.

"It will not be resolved through one-sided resolutions of the UN that ignore Israel's vital needs and undermine the basic foundations of peace."
Necas echoed the Israeli position by saying "only the direct talks of the two sides" can solve their conflict.

The two prime ministers didn't mention Israel's controversial plan to build 3,000 homes for in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as preparations for construction of an especially sensitive project near Jerusalem as retaliation for the UN vote, and didn't take questions.

Israel's move drew strong condemnations from EU nations and the U.S.¬
The Czechs have not joined the open wave of criticism. Necas only called Wednesday on both, Israel and the Palestinians, to refrain from taking unilateral steps.

Good relations between the two states date to the birth of the Jewish state.
The former Czechoslovakia was the fourth country to recognize Israel's independence five days after it was created in 1948.

Czech weapons and a training program for Israel soldiers helped the new state to survive. Communist Czechoslovakia had severed diplomatic ties with Israel though in line with Soviet-bloc policies in 1967 before the two countries re-established them following the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution.

The Palestinians' new status bolsters its position for independence and grants it access to UN agencies and international bodies.

Netanyahu continued from Prague to Germany, another Israeli ally in the EU, which abstained from the UN vote.