While many world leaders slammed US president Donald Trump’s decision to formally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the US embassy there, Czech president Miloš Zeman has welcomed the move, saying that the Czech Republic should follow his example.
Following Trump’s speech in Washington on Wednesday, in which he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Czech head of state praised his US counterpart, noting his own past support for such step.
In an interview for commercial TV Barrandov on Thursday Mr Zeman said he was very happy that Donald Trump had proceeded in accordance with his election promise.
“It makes me truly happy, because, as I said during my visit to Israel four years ago, I would appreciate the transfer of the Czech embassy to Jerusalem.
“Had it happened, we would have been the first country to do so. As it is, we may sooner or later follow the United States. In any case, it is still better than nothing.”
Mr Zeman also noted that Donald Trump’s decision was a step taken to proclaim the self-confident policy of the United States:
“Every country has the right to decide which city it will establish as its capital, and every country has the right to decide upon the location of its embassy. As a rule, it is usually the very capital city.”
Meanwhile, the Czech political scene remains divided on the issue. The right-wing Civic Democratic Party and the anti-Islam Freedom and Direct Democracy have welcomed Trump’s decision, but it has elicited sharp criticism from the Communist Party.
TOP09 and the Christian Democrats took a more reserved approach, pointing out that the step will not contribute to solving the complicated situation in the Middle East.
Following Trump’s speech on Wednesday, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it considered Jerusalem the future capital of both Israel and Palestine, along with other EU member states.
However, the ministry noted that it will consider moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the city only after talks with regional partners.
The ministry said in its statement that until peace was concluded between Israel and Palestine, Prague will continue recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel within the borders of the demarcation line from 1967.
President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has been condemned by a number of leaders across the world, including Angela Merkel and Emanuel Macron, who argue the city’s status should be determined through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Several Muslim leaders have already warned the move may lead to violence.