Netanyahu Thanks Prague for 'Courageous' UN Support
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday arrived in the Czech Republic to thank Prague for its "courageous" support in the UN vote last week on the naming of the PA as a non-member observer state, despite the success of the Palestinian Authority in securing a status upgrade.
Netanyahu met with Czech counterpart Petr Necas before heading to Germany amid an onslaught of international condemnations over new Israeli housing plans.
A staunch U.S. and Israeli ally, the Czech Republic was the only European Union country to back Israel in last Thursday's vote.
Netanyahu's office said he planned to "personally thank" the Czechs for their "courageous" support at the UN during the visit, before heading to Germany later in the day, AFP reported.
Prague joined Israel, the United States and Canada in opposing the Palestinian Authority status bid, which the UN General Assembly approved in an overwhelming vote of 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions.
Netanyahu announced the move to build 3,000 new Jewish homes in the contentious area between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim, known as E1, in response to the unilateral efforts of the PA to secure statehood, thus circumventing final status negotiations with Israel.
It will be Netanyahu's second visit to the Czech Republic this year and third since April 2011. The ex-communist country joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.
Berlin abstained from the UN vote last week, despite pleas by Israel. It then slammed the Jewish state over the plan to build in vital strategic lands just outside its eternal capital of Jerusalem.
France, Britain, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Egypt have all summoned the Israeli ambassadors to protest the plans, which also drew criticism from Russia and Japan.
Israel's plans have also sparked concern in the Unites States, which beseeched Netanyahu to reconsider the decision.
Netanyahu, however, has remained firm, refusing to capitulate to international demands.
The prime minister’s talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to focus on the controversial housing plans.
"Israel is undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate and the geographic space for a future Palestinian state, which must be the basis for a two-state solution, is disappearing," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said of the move.
Tensions between Israel and Germany had already flared last week when Berlin opted to abstain in the UN vote, despite Israeli requests. The hostility between the two countries prompted several media reports to indicate that the talks could be called off due to the recent friction.