Palestinian Erekat angered at Czech embassy move proposal

Oct. 7, 2013 at 7:23 AM
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PRAGUE, Czech Republic, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Czech President Milos Zeman of attempting to undermine the Middle East peace process.

Zeman said last week he might move the Czech Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the official Czech news agency CTK reported.

Zeman made the statements while attending a Days of Israel forum in east Bohemia where he said he planned to try to persuade whoever becomes prime minister and foreign minister following coming elections to consider moving the embassy, CTK said. Currently there are no foreign embassies in Jerusalem.

Erekat said Zeman's statements impact questions related to the final status of Jerusalem and called on the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement to discuss Zeman's remarks.

The Palestinians seek to name East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. By moving its embassy to Jerusalem, the Czech Republic would be viewed by Palestinians as officially recognizing Jerusalem the capital of Israel, complicating peace negotiations.

The Czech president's statements prompted the country's Foreign Ministry to issue a statement Monday saying the Czech Republic "firmly believe[s] that through the direct peace negotiations the parties will come to an agreement on all disputable issues, including security, border, Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem," the ministry statement said.

Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok admitted Zeman's statements may "temporarily worsen Czech relations with Arab states," adding there are no plans to discuss the proposal, CTK said.

Zeman arrived in Israel Sunday for a four-day visit and will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres as well as other Israeli government officials.

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