More than a week after a report that the Czech Ministry of Education had instructed that Tel Aviv—and not Jerusalem—appear as the capital of Israel on the country’s official academic atlas, authorities in Prague have announced that the change will not go ahead.
News of the change came last week when, in response to the complaint received from the Palestinian Embassy in the Czech Republic, the Education Ministry decided to stop Jerusalem appearing in the atlas as the Israeli capital.
The Czech Education Minister, Kateřina Valachová, said Tuesday that the atlas has official approval from her office and that the ministry has no intention of becoming involved in the matter until 2017. She also pointed out that it was not the ministry's job to become embroiled in a political dispute.
“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel from the perspective of the Declaration of Independence. If something changes, maybe we will add a sentence stating that there are countries that don’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
The publisher of the atlas also clarified its position on the matter, stating that it would follow the recommendations made by the education ministry. One of the options currently at its disposal would be to release a new edition with the adage of the aforementioned sentence.
Immediately after the announcement was made that the atlas may be changed to feature Tel Aviv as the capital, Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid called on people to flood the Facebook page of the Czech president protesting the decision. The Israeli embassy in Prague, along with the Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, also expressed their satisfaction with the reversal of the decision.
“We are on the map! The truth will defeat lies,” said Barkat Wednesday. “The Czech government decided to overturn the decision and not to remove Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from the Czech academic atlas. I am happy that the letter that I sent to the Czech prime minister and the diplomatic efforts paid off and influenced the decision. I thank the Czech government for making the right decision and not surrendering to lies and the wild incitement of the Palestinians.”
Barkat added that, “the friendship between the Czech nation and the Jewish people has existed throughout history and now also the next generation of Czech’s will learn the one truth: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the beating heart of the Jewish people.”
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem also released a statement on the issue. “The Foreign Ministry has been dealing with this matter for three weeks and is grateful to all those who assisted. In the meantime, no change will be made to the atlas. We are in contact with Czech officials from the education ministry in order to prevent a blow to the status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the statement read.