Following the Czech president’s decision to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Miloš Zeman for his “important declaration.” He added that he hopes that the move will take place in the near future.

Netanyahu and Zeman

Netanyahu and Zeman Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO

On Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Czech President Miloš Zeman’s announcement about the plans to gradually move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In his announcement, Zeman did not specify an exact date for the transfer but he mentioned that the process will begin next month.

In a Facebook post, Netanyahu said that he hopes the transfer will take place in the near future. “‏I thank my good friend, Czech President Miloš Zeman, for the important declaration that the Czech embassy will move to Jerusalem,” he wrote. “I look forward to welcoming President Zeman here in Israel with the great respect that he deserves.”

At an event marking Israel’s 70th Independence Day in Prague, Zeman announced his decision, which will begin with the opening of an “honorary consulate” in the city next month. Zeman explained that the transfer will take place in three stages. The first is the honorary consulate opening, followed by the relocation of many institutions, including the Czech tourism and trade centers. In the third phase, the official embassy will be moved to the holy city.  

“According to usual diplomatic practice, States have their embassies in the capitals of the receiving States,” the Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement. “Our presence in Jerusalem should enhance our mutual cooperation in many fields. This step in no way prejudges the final agreement concerning Jerusalem, the same way as it is not being prejudged by diplomatic representations of several European countries that are seated in East Jerusalem.”

“The Czech Republic and the State of Israel share a long history of friendly relations,” the statement continued. “Their foundations were laid by the first president of Czechoslovakia T. G. Masaryk who devoted part of his work to Jewish affairs and who was a long-standing advocate of the creation of a Jewish State. Czechoslovakia eventually assisted at its birth and supported it politically and militarily. Czechoslovakia was also one of the first countries to recognize it officially.”

Currently in Prague, Israeli Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Hotovely also welcomed the decision. The Likud MK held several official meetings with Czech officials about the transfer prior to the announcement.