7 December 2020 | Open letter by Czech initiatives
Press release here.
To: Tomáš Petříček, Ph.D., Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic
First of all, we would like to thank you for your efforts to achieve a more balanced foreign policy in relation to Israel / Palestine. We appreciate both your signature under the joint letter of the three foreign ministers against the impending annexation of the West Bank and the Czech support for the recent UN resolution reaffirming the end of Israeli occupation and emphasizing “the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, including the right to an independent Palestinian state.”
At the same time, however, we cannot fail to see the fact that the Czech Republic, despite a visible shift, is still a country that undermines the consensus based on respect for international law and human rights and agreed on the matter at the European level. This was again demonstrated by our foreign policy in its negative or reticent position in the last vote on Palestinian resolutions at the UN on 2 December. Specifically, these are resolutions mapping Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which, according to your statement for the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post, the Czech side has reluctantly responded to, mainly because they do not mention the name Temple Mount in addition to the Arabic designation Haram al-Sharif.
However, this explanation, referring to the fact that this wording would mean a denial of Jewish and Christian affiliation with the Temple Mount, and therefore with Jerusalem as such, is no longer relevant because the motion for a resolution speaks clearly of “the special significance of the holy sites and for all three monotheistic religions.”
While the requirement for a bilingual name for Haram al-Sharif may sound politically balanced, it should not be an obstacle to supporting otherwise needed resolutions. Especially when we realize that Haram al-Sharif is located in occupied East Jerusalem, a fact you completely ignore in your article – and to insist on a Hebrew designation of a place would be to force the occupied’s language of the occupiers. Just a few days ago, at the instigation of Jerusalem City Hall, the historic stairs leading to the al-Aksa Mosque in the Haram al-Sharif complex were demolished to make way for a “temple park.” Will your ministry also protest against this barbaric act of Israel in occupied East Jerusalem? After all, in this and similar cases, it is not just a terminology, but irreversible changes that deny the Palestinian affiliation to Haram al-Sharif directly physically and create a new reality in the occupied territories.
Unfortunately, we also don’t hear anything from you or the Foreign Ministry opposing to the demolition of Palestinian houses in Jerusalem or to the nomenclature by which the Israeli authorities appropriate the Palestinian sites in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank. As part of its Judaization policy, Israel systematically and purposefully renames entire Palestinian areas and redraws the map of historic Palestine, even in the occupied territories, without your ministry protesting against this arbitrariness at all.
In your article “Parallel Reality of Palestinian Resolutions at the UN” published in The Jerusalem Post, as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, you spoke very undiplomatically or contemptuously about the Palestinian reality of the longest occupation of today as a “parallel reality” that creates a “crazy show” annual motions for resolutions, which are “prepared mainly by the Palestinians themselves”. However, such simplistic statements ignore who is primarily responsible for the “Palestinian problems” and show that similar resolutions are still needed. Although these resolutions (also due to the Czech political representation) are not being fulfilled, even though the vast majority of countries of the international community agree on their wording.
In your Middle East policy, you refer to the EU, but you in this text define yourself against. You condemn the occupation of the West Bank, but at the same time you want to strengthen our diplomatic representation in Jerusalem, which only legitimizes the Israeli occupation of its eastern part. You acknowledge the need for a compromise, but by doing so you are supporting the desire of certain politicians to move the Czech embassy to Jerusalem. However, this unprecedented move, which is just another deviation from the consensual European policy towards Israel / Palestine, cannot be a stabilizing factor and certainly not an attempt for the balanced position that you say you are seeking. In fact, it can be expected that this step by Czech diplomacy will be an encouragement for an expansive settlement policy that seeks to rule out the possibility of a Palestinian state and thwart a compromise on the issue of Jerusalem as the capital of both states.
In view of all the above, we would therefore consider it more beneficial if our foreign policy sought to seek a balance that is in line with EU policy. We therefore ask that the Czech Republic no longer block the adoption of the relevant resolutions in the next vote, and that you hear the voice of the Palestinians and not legitimize the deepening Israeli occupation by strengthening our diplomatic representation in Jerusalem. Only in this way can we live up to our commitment to solidarity and understanding for others, which should be based on our own historical experience.
In Prague on 7th of December 2020
Iniciativa Ne našim jménem! Za spravedlivý mír na Blízkém Východě (Initiative Not in Our Name! For a Just Peace in the Middle East)
Židovský hlas solidarity (Jewish Voice for Peace)
Palestinský klub v ČR (Palestinian Club in the Czech Republic)
Přátelé Palestiny (Friends of Palestine)