Israel's PM Lauds Czechs for 'Courage' in U.N. Vote

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday applauded the Czech Republic for its "friendship and courage" as the only European state to have opposed Palestine's status upgrade at the United Nations.

Prague joined allies Israel, the United States and Canada in opposing the Palestinian status bid. The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday approved non-member observer status for Palestine by an overwhelming vote of 138 against nine, with 41 abstentions.

"Thank you for your country's opposition to the one-sided resolution by the United Nations, for your friendship, for your courage," Netanyahu told reporters following Wednesday talks with his Czech counterpart Petr Necas.

"The Czech Republic stood with the U.S., Canada and a handful of other countries against the prevailing international current, but history has shown us time and again that what is right is not what is popular," he said.

It was Netanyahu's second visit to Prague this year and third since April 2011. The ex-communist country joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.

The Israeli leader was due in Germany later Wednesday, amid a mounting crisis over his country's settlement plans that could torpedo the viability of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu's first European visit since the Palestinian U.N. upgrade comes amid mounting international calls for Israel to drop plans to build 3,000 new settler homes in a highly contentious strip of the occupied West Bank near Jerusalem.

Netanyahu announced the move in reaction to the Palestinian success at the U.N. and has refused to go back on the decision despite strong international condemnation.

In Prague Wednesday, he insisted he was also committed to peace and "a two-state solution of two peoples."

"Israel is committed to a genuine peace, a genuine and durable peace, for peace to endure, it must be a peace that we can defend," he said.

"Unfortunately on Thursday, the Palestinians asked the world to give them a state without providing Israel with peace and security in return," Netanyahu said, adding that the "U.N. resolution completely ignored Israel's security."

Berlin abstained from voting last week despite pleas by Israel. It then slammed the Jewish state over the plan to build the settler homes in east Jerusalem, a move Palestinians vehemently oppose.

France, Britain, Spain, the European Union, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Egypt have all summoned the Israeli ambassadors to protest the plans, which also drew criticism from Russia and Japan.

Israel's plans have also worried the United States, its traditional ally, which asked Netanyahu reconsider the decision.

But Netanyahu, who is facing stiff opposition at home ahead of a snap election next January, has refused to go back on it.

Netanyahu's talks later Wednesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to focus on the issue.

"Israel is undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate and the geographic space for a future Palestinian state, which must be the basis for a two-state solution, is disappearing," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

Tensions between Israel and Germany had already flared last week when Berlin opted to abstain in the U.N. vote. Israel reportedly asked Berlin to vote "no".

Media reports had said this week's talks in Berlin could even be called off due to the friction.

In an interview to appear in Thursday's edition of German daily Die Welt, Netanyahu said it would be "not honest to hide the fact that I was disappointed by Germany's vote at the United Nations, like many others in Israel."

"People are convinced that there is a special relationship between Germany and Israel," the prime minister added in comments published in German.

Comments 2
Thumb chrisrushlau 05 December 2012, 19:57

"I will not crush a bruised reed nor quench a smoldering wick."
Israel's shame is not in the prospect but in the present.
Or, as Franz Kafka might have said, when lawyers talk about some line of argument violating the straight-faced test--that you can't say that with a straight face--they are adverting to some basic constitution of the human being, and that laughter is like a volcano of righteousness inside you, bubbling up when you least want it to; so be glad for it, for the smirk which you wanted to look like a frown.

Thumb ghada12 06 December 2012, 09:20

this is a little bit too heady for me but I think I know what you mean and I like it.