Netanyahu to lead delegation to Czech Republic

Official says cabinet-to-cabinet meeting is a sign of the extremely close ties between the two countries.

Netanyahu in Prague 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/David W Cerny)
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.
Netanyahu, who 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.
The 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 Israel.
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 Friday.