Diverging with the position of his country’s foreign ministry, Czech President Milos Zeman supported US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said Prague may follow suit.
“Now we may sooner or later follow the United States,” Zeman said during a television appearance Thursday, adding: “In any case, it is still better than nothing.”
Zeman, whose signature is necessary to validate laws and who may veto laws passed by parliament, also said: “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, and had it happened, we would have been the first to do so.”
But Zeman, who cannot dictate his country’s foreign policy, did not say that it would move its embassy to Jerusalem, as the president of the United States said during his declaration on Jerusalem on Wednesday, after which he signed a document that for the first time recognises Israel’s capital as Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, the Czech foreign ministry issued a statement saying it would neither move the embassy from the Tel Aviv area to Jerusalem nor recognise that city as Israel’s capital prior to the reaching of an agreement on its status in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
“The Czech Republic currently, before the peace between Israel and Palestine is signed, recognises Jerusalem to be in fact the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967,” the country’s foreign ministry said in the statement.
However, the ministry noted that “the Czech Republic together with other EU member states, following the EU Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions, considers Jerusalem to be the future capital of both states, meaning the State of Israel and the future State of Palestine. The Ministry can start considering moving of the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem only based on results of negotiations with key partners in the region and in the world.”
The European Union, of which the Czech Republic is a member, has criticised Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as “counterproductive.”