Czech FM Lubomir Zaorlek with Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Reuters)

Czech FM attacks West Bank construction

Lubomir Zaoralek condemns settlement construction; Israel: 'Czech Republic is no longer in our pocket'; French President Sarkozy calls BDS a ridiculous scandal.

Years of steadfast political support from the Czech Republic appeared to be changing Monday during Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek's visit to Israel, during which he unexpectedly attacked Israeli construction in West Bank settlements, saying that the policy, "reinforces the atmosphere of hate." 



Zaoralek, who on Monday signed with Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely a work agreement for young people between the two countries, said Sunday, in an interview with the Czech news agency, that construction on Palestinian land torpedos the Middle East peace process, whose aim is two independent states.


"This also applies to construction in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians consider the future capital of their independent state," he added. "It just reinforces the atmosphere of hate."


In 2012 the Czech Republic was the only EU country that voted against the acceptance of Palestine as an observer at the United Nations, and is considered one of Israel's closest friends on the continent. However, the position Zaoralek expressed in the interview, he also made a point of stressing the issue in his meeting on Monday with Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Hotoveli.


Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek with Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Reuters)
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek with Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Reuters)


He warned them that if the political stalemate continues, the Czech Republic will be hard pressed to defend Israel against various EU initiatives.


Israeli political sources reacted saying that the Czech minister's comments were harsh: "This reflects our situation with the European Union. Our friends also feel the tension. He considers himself a friend and came here to tell the truth as he sees it. The Czech Republic is no longer in our pocket."


Netanyahu told Zaoralek during their meeting that Israel is interested in the two-state solution - a Jewish nation state living in peace side by side with a demilitarized Palestinian state. "Unfortunately, the Palestinians will not negotiate, they run away from negotiations," he said. "They ran from Ehud Barak, they fled from Sharon, they ran away from Olmert and they ran away from me."


For the first time, Zaoralek visited the Gaza Strip during his current trip to the area, and returned shaken up. He warned that if there is no improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza, there may well be another violent confrontation.


Sarkozy condemns any idea of boycotting

Against the background of the strengthening BDS movement to boycott Israel for its policies in the territories, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is visiting Israel, said during his meeting with President Reuven Rivlin that he "unequivocally condemns any idea of boycotting the Israeli democracy."


Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy with Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: GPO)
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy with Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: GPO)


President Rivlin replied: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a conflict but a tragedy. Unilateral steps or boycotts, and pressure from international organizations will not bring an end to the tragedy. The only solution is direct negotiations."


Sarkozy had previously met with Shimon Peres and the two discussed many issues, particularly the boycott movement against Israel, Israel's place in the international arena, political negotiations and the upcoming nuclear agreement with Iran.


In a talk with students, Sarkozy referred to the boycott issue and said: "It's a ridiculous scandal. I spoke with all political factions in Israel, left and right, and a political initiative must be undertaken, otherwise you will be left behind. I know Abu Mazen very well. For me, the future is two states. Peace and coexistence are not a choice. They are necessary. They are destiny. A diverse Middle East."


פרסום ראשון: 06.08.15, 23:44
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