Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, has condemned the Czech Republic’s opening of a diplomatic office in occupied Jerusalem.
Aboul Gheit said that the measure violates international law and the consistent European policy on this issue, adding that it does not help peace but violates Palestinian rights in the occupied city.
“The Czech Republic’s opening of its representative [office] in Jerusalem is in violation of Security Council Resolution 478 of 1980, which prohibits the establishment of diplomatic missions in the occupied city,” Aboul Gheit said in a statement.
The statement added that the status of Jerusalem is a negotiated final resolution issue, and its fate cannot be determined in advance through unilateral actions.
Aboul Gheit stressed that Jerusalem’s legal status is unaffected by state decisions to open representative missions in the city. He noted that East Jerusalem is occupied land according to international law, and that this is a constant fact that is not affected by the actions of some states that have chosen interests at the expense of principles.
The Czech Republic opened a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, on Thursday, which is affiliated to its embassy in Tel Aviv. The country said that the move was aimed at boosting services for Czech citizens in Israel, and did not amount to opening a new embassy.
While stopping short of shifting the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem, the move received clear approval from Israel, with the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi attending the opening along with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis.
Ashkenazi welcomed the opening, saying it was “further evidence of the depth of friendship with the people and government of the Czech Republic”.
Palestinian leaders, however, oppose the step and have called on the Czech Republic to reverse the decision.
European Union (EU) member states had refused to move their embassies to Jerusalem, pending a final agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians on the issue of the holy city. Among EU states, only Hungary also has diplomatic offices in Jerusalem.
With the exception of the US and Guatemala, countries worldwide have declined to shift their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.