Brussels (Brussels Morning) The Arab League and the Palestinian Authority condemned the Czech Republic’s opening of a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, claiming it represents a violation of international law, Reuters reported.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš attended the opening of the Jerusalem branch of its Embassy in Israel on Thursday, an addition to the main mission in Tel Aviv. The opening comes two weeks after Israel sent 5,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Prague under a “vaccine diplomacy” programme which quickly came under legal scrutiny and was halted.
Not an embassy
The Czech Foreign Ministry tried to preempt the criticisms by emphasising the new office was not an embassy. “[It] has no impact on the will of the Czech Republic to further develop political and economic relations with the Palestinian Authority”, the Ministry insisted in a statement.
The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, was not assuaged by the Czech assurances, calling the move “a blatant attack on the Palestinian people and their rights, a flagrant violation of international law”, which it said would hurt peace prospects.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit also condemned the move. “The legal status of Jerusalem will be affected by the decision of one country or another to open representative offices”, Gheit observed. “East Jerusalem is an occupied land under International law”, he declared.
Although the Czech Republic formally supports the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the country was named among the group supporting Israel’s argument that the International Criminal Court should not investigate war crimes in the Palestinian territories. Babiš himself noted on Thursday that the Court should have no jurisdiction over Palestine, since “the Czech Republic does not consider Palestine to be a state”.