PM Netanyahu and Czech President Miloš Zeman in Jerusalem. (Esti Dazyobov/TPS) (Esti Dazyobov/TPS)
Netanyahu Zeman

“We have no greater friend than the Czech Republic in the eastern hemisphere. There is a close race now about the two hemispheres,” Netanyahu said at the dedication of the Czech House in Jerusalem, referring also to the United States of America.

By: JNS and United with Israel Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that his country has no greater friend in the eastern hemisphere than the Czech Republic.

You challenged me yesterday, correctly,” Netanyahu told Czech President Miloš Zeman. “You said that the Czech Republic is the greatest friend of Israel in Europe. And you said, ‘Why Europe?’ OK, I’ll amend it. We have no greater friend than the Czech Republic in the eastern hemisphere. There is a close race now about the two hemispheres.”

“We value the enormous friendship we have with the American people, and there is something similar about the friendship we have with the Czech people and Miloš Zeman, who I think is unsurpassed in his friendship to Israel,” said Netanyahu.

He added, “With the Czech Republic, as with the United States of America, there is something else. It’s a deep, deep commonality of values, which you so powerfully expressed. You said yesterday in a magnificent speech in the Knesset, magnificent, you said, ‘If we betray Israel, we betray ourselves.’ ”

“No one in Europe understands so readily and immediately the situation of Israel and the challenge of Israel – a small, beleaguered democracy that is courageously facing the challenges of an undemocratic neighborhood. That’s an understatement. You understand it. But you don’t simply understand it, you speak your mind and your heart, and you speak the truth. And I want to applaud you for this again,” Netanyahu told Zeman.

‘I Will Do My Best’

Netanyahu’s remarks came as the Czech Republic dedicated the Czech House cultural center and marked the Czech Republic’s National Day.

The “Czech House” in Jerusalem is considered by Prague as a “first step” toward relocating the country’s embassy to Jerusalem, it will deal with Czech-Israel tourism, trade and other areas.

“Although this institution will not have a diplomatic status, Zeman sees it as a precursor to the transfer of the Czech Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” a statement by the Czech parliament said.

At the Knesset on Monday, Zeman expressed hope that the dedication of the Czech House will lead to the relocation of the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“I am no dictator, unfortunately, but I promise I will do my best,” he stated.

In late April, Zeman announced a “three-stage” plan to relocate the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which included the reopening of its honorary consulate in Jerusalem the following month. The honorary consulate was first opened in the early 1990s but closed in 2016 due to the death of the honorary consul.

The Czech Republic recognized western Jerusalem as the capital of Israel following President Donald Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December.

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