FILE PHOTO: Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana unveil a sign during an inauguration ceremony of a Czech diplomatic representation in Jerusalem March 11, 2021. REUTERS
The Palestinian Authority and the Arab League on Saturday condemned the Czech Republic’s opening of a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, calling it a violation of international law.
Prague opened a Jerusalem branch of its Israel embassy, which is located in Tel Aviv, on Thursday. Its inauguration, attended by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, was two weeks after Israel sent several thousand COVID-19 vaccine doses to the Czech Republic.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it considered Prague’s move “a blatant attack on the Palestinian people and their rights, a flagrant violation of international law,” and said it would harm peace prospects.
In Cairo, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement: “The legal status of Jerusalem will be affected by the decision of one country or another to open representative offices. East Jerusalem is an occupied land under the International law.”
Jerusalem’s status is one of the thorniest issues in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel annexed the eastern part of the city in a move not recognised internationally and regards all of Jerusalem as its capital.
The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Middle East War, as the capital of a future independent state.
Peace talks broke down in 2014.
Although the Czech Republic supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it was named in an International Criminal Court pre-trial decision last month as one of the countries supporting Israel’s argument that the court had no jurisdiction over war crimes in the Palestinian territories.
The Czech Republic is also one of Israel’s strongest supporters in the European Union. Last month Israel froze its short-lived “vaccine diplomacy” programme to send COVID-19 vaccines abroad to buy international goodwill after it came under legal scrutiny.