JERUSALEM, Israel – Czech Republic President Milos Zeman said US President Donald Trump was following his lead on Jerusalem.
In December of last year, Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Later, he confirmed that the US Embassy would relocate to Jerusalem on May 14 this year.
US Embassy in Tel Aviv
Shortly after Trump's December declaration, the Czech Republic also recognized western Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
But according to media reports, Zeman, who is a long-time supporter of Israel, joked that Trump was only following him since he had suggested the Czech Embassy be relocated four years ago.
At a celebration to honor Israel's 70th Independence Day in Prague Wednesday evening, Zeman announced a three-part plan to move the Czech Embassy.
"There will be, I hope, three phrases of removal of the Czech Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Zeman said.
Those phases were detailed in a statement posted on the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
"Last year, the Czech Republic has already expressed its position on Jerusalem as [the] capital of the State of Israel, in its 1967 borders," the statement said.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with Czech Republic President Milos Zeman at his Jerusalem Residence, Photo, GPO, Kobi Gideon
"It thus only acknowledged what is standard practice by other States when making their official visits to Israel. According to usual diplomatic practice, States have their embassies in the capitals of the receiving States. This is why the Czech Republic has decided, as a first step, to open an honorary consulate (led by Honorary Consul Mr. Dan Propper) in May and a new Czech Centre by the end of this year, both in West Jerusalem. Our presence in Jerusalem should enhance our mutual cooperation in many fields," the statement read.
Zeman said the process would eventually lead to moving the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem. And he ended his speech with the words, Jews said every holiday for thousands of years when there was no Israel, "Next year in Jerusalem!"
According to the Czech Foreign Ministry, those steps don't prejudge any final agreement concerning the status of Jerusalem.
The European Union – and most of the world – maintain that the status of Jerusalem must be decided as part of a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians want the eastern part of the city – including the Old City – as the capital of their future state.
The Czech Republic's declaration is the western Jerusalem is the capital of Israel leaving open the possibility for dividing the city. Trump's declaration infers the same thing.
Nevertheless, Israelis have welcomed the promise of embassies moving to Jerusalem and expect more to move in the future.
To date, Guatemala is the only country besides the US that's committed to moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Both Honduras and Romania have talked about it but so far neither has made a final decision.