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Netanyahu Offered To Turn His Jerusalem Home Into A Czech Embassy

(JTA) — Czech President Milos Zeman said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to give up his own home in Jerusalem if the Czech Republic opens an embassy there.

Zeman said this, possibly as a joke, during a speech last week at a gala of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

Zeman, a staunch supporter of Israel who supports moving his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, praised President Donald Trump for initiating in December the move of the US embassy to the Israeli capital. Zeman said he had supported moving the Czech embassy years ago, according to a transcription of his speech that was posted this week on the official website of the Czech presidency.

“That’s not all, Bibi Netanyahu told me: ‘If you do [the same] I will give you my own house for your embassy.’,” Zeman said, adding: “I strongly hope that the offer is still valid because it could greatly reduce the cost of this relocation.”

The European Union, of which the Czech Republic is a member, opposes the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem, which Brussels says should occur only after the conclusion of a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority.

The Czech foreign ministry said the embassy will stay put for now.

However, Zeman has called this “cowardice.”

“I’m afraid that only 10 percent of the total population is brave, maybe less,” he said. ”That’s why I like Israel. Let me end with one sentence from an old Jewish prayer: Next year in Jerusalem!”

The Czech acting prime minister, Andrej Babis, in April said his country will open an honorary consulate in Jerusalem but Zeman later said that consulate’s opening is part of an open-ended effort that will end with the relocation of the Czech embassy to Jerusalem.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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