CZECH PRESIDENT Milos Zeman welcomes President Reuven Rivlin at Prague Castle.
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN / GPO)
The Czech Republic is committed to fighting the threat of fundamentalism, President Milos Zeman told President Reuven Rivlin at their working meeting on Wednesday.
This followed the official reception ceremony which Zeman and his wife, Ivana Zemanova, hosted for Rivlin and his wife, Nechama. Zeman stated that both countries are clearly being confronted with a form of fundamentalism aimed at fomenting civil war.
Accompanied by a large business delegation, Rivlin is spending three days on a state visit to the Czech Republic.
Zeman said he was very pleased that Israel is interested in expanding economic relations with the Czech Republic, and praised Israel’s technological and biomedical achievements.
Before leaving Israel on Tuesday and immediately following his meeting with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, Rivlin said that Israel was greatly indebted to the Czechs for training its pilots to fight in the War of Independence and for more recently supporting Israel in international forums.
Rivlin reiterated the nation’s gratitude during his meeting with Zeman.
Czech journalists were eager to know about the security situation in Israel in general and in Jerusalem in particular.
“Jerusalem is united and the capital of Israel – and that’s a fact,” replied Rivlin, adding that Jerusalem is a microcosm of the feasibility of coexistence.
“We believe that Jews and Arabs are destined to live together and not doomed to live together,” he said. In order to understand that, he continued, there must be new confidence building measures.
As he told Ban the previous day, Rivlin stated that Israel did not declare war on Islam.
Israel allows people of all faiths to pray in accordance with their beliefs, and has consistently maintained the agreement signed by prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan on the status quo on the Temple Mount.
The influence that the Islamic State has on the region can be seen in efforts to turn the current crisis into a religious war, said Rivlin, and the Arabs are using this as an opportunity to declare war on every Israeli citizen. Arabs and Jews together are in a difficult situation, because in the streets of Israel there is no way to tell the difference between a Jew and a Muslim, he said.
With regard to the renewal of the peace process, Rivlin stated that, unfortunately, every initiative by Israel is rejected by the Palestinians. Netanyahu has called for the resumption of negotiations several times, and despite differences of opinion, Israel is willing to enter into negotiations without any preconditions, Rivlin said.
Zeman was asked by Israeli journalists whether remarks by the Czech foreign minister indicating that he did not know whether the Czech Republic could continue to support Israel signified a rift in relations between the two countries.
Zeman insisted that there has been no change in policy.
The proof of this, he said, was a joint meeting of the ministers of both governments.
There is no other country with which the Czech Republic has such meetings, he added.
Zeman was asked by Czech journalists about cooperation between the two countries in combating Islamic State.
There are Czech observers stationed on the Golan Heights and in part of Sinai he said, stressing that he would be very happy if Israel agreed to his UN proposal that an international counterterrorism force be established. He also emphasized that in his view the UN Security Council and its individual member states should be more active in fighting terrorism.
The Czech News Agency quoted Katerina Navarova, from the Czech Retia company, who said that Rivlin and Czech leaders might discuss Prague’s plan to buy Israeli 3D radars worth several billion crowns.