Zeman invites new Israeli President Rivlin to Prague


06.08.2014 16:10

Prague - President Milos Zeman has invited the new Israeli head of state, Reuven Rivlin, to a visit to the Czech Republic and he accepted the invitation, Presidential Office spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK today, adding that the date has not yet been set.


Prezident Miloš Zeman vystoupil 11. dubna na Pražském hradě na konferenci Česko očima Evropy, Evropa očima Česka, která se uskutečnila k 10. výročí vstupu České republiky do Evropské unie. ČTK Vondrouš Roman

The Parlamentni listy server reported on the visit.

Zeman is a strong supporter of Israel in its conflict with Palestine. He has repeatedly defended Israel and sharply criticised Islamic countries.

Zeman commented on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine in the Gaza Strip on Monday.

It cannot be tolerated that missiles are being constantly shot at any country, Ovcacek said, citing Zeman´s opinion.

The international community has exerted pressure on Israel over its offensive in Gaza in which hundreds of civilians have died.

The Czech Republic has long been one of the main allies of Israel not only in the European Union, but also in the world.

It was the only European country to vote against the resolution on the admission of Palestine to the U.N. as a non-member observer state in November 2012.

A joint meeting of the Czech and Israeli cabinets was held under the centre-right government of Petr Necas (2010-13).

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) wants to follow up this tradition. He will pay a visit to Israel at the end of the year.

However, information emerged behind the scenes, saying the Czech Foreign Ministry, headed by Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD), does not support Israel as strongly as the previous diplomacy.

This has been criticised mainly by the Civic Democrats (ODS), former governing party now in opposition.

The leftist camp, on the contrary, demands that Prague take a tougher approach to Israel.

The latter view is promoted by Jan Kavan, former CSSD foreign minister (1998-2002) and U.N. General Assembly president (2002-2003), journalist and former dissident Petr Uhl and representatives of the Initiative for a Just Peace in the Middle East, in their open letter to Zaoralek.

They ask him to back the U.N. resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians, to distance himself from the recent trip to Israel by a group of Czech MPs, and to explain Czech diplomacy´s position in the U.N. Human Rights Council where the Czechs, along with other EU countries, abstained from the vote when an anti-Israeli resolution was discussed.

The open letter has been signed by almost 400 people already, the signatories said.

Zaoralek said he wants to meet the critics this week.

"I´m ready to discuss the issue with all who are dissatisfied. I´ll try to explain why, in my opinion, the Czech Republic´s position as well thought out and balanced," Zaoralek told CTK.

Rivlin, 74, a lawyer by profession, was elected by the Knesset in the second round on June 10. He beat MP Meir Sheetrit. Rivlin was sworn in on July 24, replacing Shimon Peres.

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