Czech envoy rejects Palestinian criticism over visit to West Bank


15.01.2014 16:23

Ramallah/Brussels/Prague - Czech ambassador to Israel Tomas Pojar did not act in contradiction with EU positions when he visited the Israeli settlement Ariel in the West Bank last week where he advocated them, Pojar told CTK today.


Český velvyslanec v Izraeli Tomáš Pojar (na snímku z 27. srpna) řekl v rozhovoru s ČTK, že klíčovými tématy chystané návštěvy prezidenta Miloše Zemana bude obchod, situace na Blízkém východě a vztahy s EU. Zeman židovský stát navštíví počátkem října, poveze s sebou početnou podnikatelskou delegaci. ČTK Šulová Kateřina

Pojar has come under the criticism of Palestinian authorities for having visited the university in the Jewish settlement of Ariel in the West Bank.

Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat sent a letter to this effect to High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.

Pojar said his conduct had not breached the EU positions in any way. On the contrary, he advocated them, he added.

Erekat said the visit undermined the peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.

He said Pojar had visited Ariel only one day after Israeli authorities announced the plan of building 1400 new flats in the West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem.

The EU asked Israel earlier to freeze the construction of the settlements.

Erekat said the EU should openly distance itself from the visit.

Pojar said he had not known about the Palestinian complaint.

"First, I do not know about it. Second, I advocated and explained the positions of the EU and the Czech Republic there," Pojar told CTK, adding that he had not supported any concrete cooperation in the place.

He said he had found out that "there was no cooperation between Czech universities and the [Ariel] university."

The Jerusalem Post wrote last week that "Pojar’s visit was the first that an ambassador from an EU country has ever paid to the school."

"The ambassador, who said his country 'upholds everything agreed upon on the European level,' told The Jerusalem Post he was visiting the campus because 'Ariel is in the news, and I wanted to see for myself what the situation is, and how the university functions."

Pojar said, he had "openly discussed the European Union and the Czech Republic’s positions regarding the settlement issue.”

He said "the Czech Republic was in step with the EU on this issue, and added that he did not know of any academic cooperation between Ariel and universities in the Czech Republic."

The Jerusalem Post wrote that "A communique from the university said the envoy had taken a special interest in research done in cooperation with Palestinian villages in the area, as well as in the 'hundreds of Arab students studying on the campus.'"

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