Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inaugurated a Czech House in Jerusalem on Tuesday alongside Czech President Milos Zeman, with both hoping it would serve as a prelude to moving the country’s embassy.
Czech House, promoting tourism and trade, has been portrayed as a first step toward moving the European country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem, as US President Donald Trump did in May.
But the Czech government has also said it will respect the common position of the European Union, which opposes such a move.
“In the near future, I firmly believe, and deep in my heart I do believe, we shall overcome,” Zeman said at the inauguration ceremony during a state visit to Israel.
“There will be… not only the embassy but also a nice Czech tavern with good Czech beer.”
Netanyahu compared the Czech Republic’s support of Israel as similar in spirit to that of his country’s most important ally, the United States.
“No one in Europe understands so readily and immediately the situation of Israel and the challenge of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
Zeman is a strong backer of Israel and has long favoured moving the Czech embassy to Jerusalem.
In an address to Israel’s parliament on Monday, Zeman said he would push to move the embassy, but acknowledged the decision depended on his government.
Apart from Czech House, the Czech Republic in May also reopened an honorary consulate in Jerusalem following its closure in 2016 due to the death of the honorary consul.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.
It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
International consensus — including the EU — has been that the city’s status must be negotiated by the two sides.