Czech Ambassador to Israel Tomas Pojar visited Ariel University in Samaria on Thursday, and in doing so became the first European Union (EU) member state ambassador to visit the university.
The visit is particularly notable given the recent EU decision to keep all research activities conducted over the 1949 Armistice lines, which would include those at Ariel University, out of the framework of the Horizon 2020 scientific project. Israel objected but compromised, joining the project while stating it didn't recognize the boycott guidelines as legal precedent.
During his visit, Pojar met with Ariel University President Prof. Yehuda Danon, rector Prof. Michael Zinigrad, and dean Yigal Cohen-Orgad.
Pojar expressed particular interest in the joint research conducted with and for the benefit of Arab residents of Samaria, and was interested to learn that hundreds of Arab students attend the institution.
Pojar concluded his visit by saying he had come "to see what's really happening," and noted he was happy to see academic research can overcome political complexities.
The Czech ambassador's visit comes after the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ambassador to the Czech Republic died in a mysterious explosion at his house. Czech officials called for the PA embassy to be moved after it was discovered the ambassador was hiding a weapons stockpile at his home in the embassy complex.
"The district feels betrayed by the behavior of diplomats who kept weapons and explosives at the embassy, violating Czech and international law," said Petr Hejl, senior councilor of Prague's Suchdol district.