The Arab League discussed a Czech proposal to move the Czech Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in an extraordinary delegations’ session on Wednesday.
Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby said the meeting comes at the request of the State of Palestine which came in response to statements made by Czech President Milos Zeman.
On the opening of the 17th meeting, titled “Days of Israel”, on 30 September, Zeman suggested that the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Israel be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a proposal that was met with heavy criticism by several groups.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat who called for the Arab League meeting said that such a move would be destructive to the peace process and to efforts to reach an agreement on several issues, including Jerusalem, Ma’an news agency reported.
Czech President Milos Zeman recently met with Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni on Tuesday and said embassies should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “after reconciliation” between Israel and Palestine is achieved, the Czech news agency CTK reported. A day earlier, CTK cited Zeman as saying that the conditions for moving the embassy are completing the peace process and constructing a residential quarter for other embassies in Jerusalem.
El-Araby said during the meeting that this was not an ordinary issue and that it must be dealt with via a resolution by all Arab countries, adding that he had discussed the issue with Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu. El-Araby also said he had “several ideas on how to deal with the matter,” which he would discuss in a closed session.
Jerusalem has been among the contentious issues that Palestine and Israel have long disagreed about in talks, namely as to which party will control which parts of Jerusalem. Egypt’s stance on the peace talks is that they must “lead to the establishment of an independent, sovereign, and viable Palestinian state based on the June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
On Sunday, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent an identical message to El-Araby and İhsanoğlu. The foreign ministry demanded that all Arab and Muslim countries respond adequately through the Arab League and OIC by adopting decisions to address Zeman’s proposal. Foreign Minister Riyadh Al-Malki called for a meeting in the Arab League at the level of the permanent delegations ahead of holding a ministerial meeting on the issue.
The OIC has also voiced its criticism in a statement on Sunday. “The Secretary General stated that this dangerous proposal violated international law and resolutions of international legitimacy, undermined the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and was capable of hurting the Czech Republic’s relations with the entirety of OIC states,” the statement read.
İhsanoğlu added that Zeman’s statements diverge from the positions of the international community and the European Union on Jerusalem.