Netanyahu in Prague 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/David W Cerny)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will lead seven ministers to Prague on
Thursday for a cabinet-to-cabinet meeting with the Czech government, one of the
friendliest governments toward Israel in the world.
visited Prague in April 2011, is scheduled to meet his Czech counterpart Petr
Necas, as well as Czech President Vaclav Klaus. The first
government-to-government meeting between the two countries took place in
September in Jerusalem.
One Israeli government official said the meeting
is a sign of the extremely close ties between the two countries. He said the
Czech Republic can regularly be counted on in various EU forums to support and
push forward Israeli positions.
Netanyahu’s trip comes in the same week
that the EU foreign ministers issued a statement harshly critical of Israel’s
policies. In the debate surrounding the resolution, the Czech Republic was not
overly active in trying to water it down, with Italy and the Netherlands taking
the lead this time.
Diplomatic officials said the Czech Republic decided
to take a less active role because it saw that the Germans were determined to
push through the resolution. Israeli officials said Netanyahu did not plan to
bring this up with his hosts.
Netanyahu and Necas are expected to sign a
joint declaration emphasizing the two countries’ historic partnership, strong
mutual support and their hope to further strengthen the relationship.
declaration is expected to include a line pledging Czech support for Israel’s
right to defend itself against terrorist attacks, and expressing Prague’s
concern at Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium for weapon purposes even as it
threatens to destroy Israel. The declaration will also say that the countries
jointly decry both the calls to destroy Israel, as well as the claims that the
Holocaust never happened.
The declaration will also include a pledge
between the governments to continue working closely in international forums,
where the Czech Republic can generally be counted on to vote with
Regarding the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, the
declaration is expected to say that direct negotiations are the only way to
reach a just and sustainable accord.
The declaration is also expected to
say that the governments view defense and security cooperation as a key
component of the relationship, “in light of the historic military ties between
the two countries.” Czechoslovakia supplied a great deal of arms to
Israel during the 1948-9 War of Independence.
Netanyahu will be
accompanied during the talks by: Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael
Beytenu); Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon (Independence);
Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi); Welfare
and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon (Likud); Transportation Minister
Yisrael Katz (Likud); Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias (Shas); and
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud). The ministers will meet with
their Czech counterparts.
The prime minister will return to Israel on