Prime Minister Nečas indicates no support for independent Palestine during Israel visit

Petr Nečas et Benyamin Netanyahou, photo: CTK

Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Friday wound up a two-day official visit to Israel, heading the largest Czech delegation ever to visit the Jewish state. The visit came a week before the UN is expected to vote on an independent Palestinian state which was one of the issues Czech and Israeli officials debated in Jerusalem. Radio Prague spoke about the Czech prime minister’s visit with Czech Radio correspondent in Israel Břetislav Tureček.

Petr Nečas, Benjamin Netanyahu, photo: CTK
“It was the first time that such a large Czech ministerial delegation visited Israel. Prime Minister Nečas stressed it was meant to emphasize the depth of the friendship between the two countries, and to confirm all the agreements concerning economic, scientific and military cooperation. The Czech delegation had a few dozen participants, including business people and people from the academia.”

After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas said he did not support a unilateral recognition of independent Palestine. Does that mean the Czech Republic will vote against the Palestinian plea in the upcoming vote in the United Nations?

“I asked Mr Nečas about it, and he again declined to reveal how the Czech delegation in New York would vote next week. The prime minister said it was not possible to say now because we still don’t know whether the vote would take place in the UN Security Council or the General Assembly, and we also don’t know how the Palestinian request will be worded.

Petr Nečas in Yad Vashem memorial, photo: CTK
“My feeling was that Mr Nečas was very reluctant to actively support any Palestinian move. By the way, the local daily Ha Aretz reported a few days ago that the Czech Republic was one of only five countries of the world that would vote against the Palestinians. It was reported that the Czechs had already promised this to the Israelis.”

It seems that Czech politics caught up with Mr Nečas and his delegation in Israel on a visit Thursday to the Yad Vashem Holocoaust memorial. They were met outside by several protestors calling for the sacking of the controversial right-wing figure Ladislav Bátora from the Czech Education Ministry. How did Czech officials react to this?

“There were in fact just four women, I guess mainly Israelis with Czech or Slovak background. One of their banners asked Education Minister Josef Dobeš whether he was ready to sack Mr Bátora now, that he had seen the museum of Nazi crimes and the Holocaust.

Photo: CTK
“At the first moment, the Czech officials just passed by the protestors without reacting to them. Afterwards, Czech reporters asked Prime Minister Nečas about it, and he said it was not his business to comment on that or to do anything about Mr Bátora. We then asked Minister Dobeš himself, and he admitted he was really surprised to see a protest against Mr Bátora here in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, but he again refused to dismiss him.”