The Czech Republic plans to boost the status of its mission in Jerusalem without moving its embassy, Prague announced on Wednesday.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said the new office will be part of “efforts to further strengthen Czech-Israeli relations,” but emphasized that “this is not about opening a new embassy.”
The diplomatic office is slated to be opened in the first half of 2021, replacing the Czech honorary consulate in Jerusalem. It will be a branch of its embassy in Tel Aviv, with one of the diplomats of the embassy working from the office, and will allow Czech citizens to apply for travel documents in Jerusalem. The new office will be a separate entity from the existing Czech House in Jerusalem, which promotes Czech culture and trade and has an office in which the ambassador can hold meetings in the capital.
The Czech statement clarified that “the establishment of this office has nothing to do with the ongoing peace process in the Middle East, does not anticipate its results or change the long-term Czech position in this process.”
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with his Czech counterpart Tomáš Petříček and thanked him for the decision, which Ashkenazi said “is a symbol of the great friendship between the Czech Republic and Israel and the strategic partnership between the countries.”
“This decision is a clear message to the nations of the world: Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish People and the State of Israel and will remain our capital forever,” Ashkenazi added.
The only countries with embassies in Jerusalem are the US and Guatemala. In recent months, Kosovo, Serbia, the Dominican Republic and Malawi have said they would follow.
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