Czech leaders endorse ‘first step’ in embassy move to Jerusalem

The Czech move would follow the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Czech leaders endorse ‘first step’ in embassy move to Jerusalem

PRAGUE: Czech leaders on Wednesday endorsed a “first step” toward moving the country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following a similar move by the US administration earlier this year.
In a joint statement, the Czech president, prime minister, parliament speaker, and foreign and defense ministers said the opening of a “Czech House” in Jerusalem in November would be “the first step in the plan to move the Czech embassy to Jerusalem.”
Jiri Ovcacek, spokesman for pro-Israeli President Milos Zeman, told AFP that the Czech House would host government institutions including the foreign ministry’s Czech Center, the trade agency CzechTrade and tourism agency CzechTourism.
“The Czech House in Jerusalem will be ceremonially opened by Mr.president during his visit to Israel in November,” he said.
Zeman, a 73-year-old veteran leftwinger with anti-Muslim views, pushed for the embassy move even before US President Donald Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem on May 14.
Trump’s decision infuriated Palestinians and intensified protests on the Gaza border, where several dozen people were killed in clashes with Israeli forces that day.
Trump’s move also ruptured decades of international consensus that Jerusalem’s status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
In May, the Czech Republic reopened an honorary consulate in Jerusalem following its closure in 2016 owing to the death of the honorary consul.
The Czech Embassy has been in Tel Aviv since 1949 except for when diplomatic relations with the former communist regime in Prague were interrupted between 1967 and 1990.
 


Cambodia genocide verdict a signal to other perpetrators: US

The historic verdict comes nearly 40 years after the Khmer Rouge were expelled from Cambodia following a four-year reign of terror that left about a quarter of the population dead. (AP)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Cambodia genocide verdict a signal to other perpetrators: US

  • A war crimes tribunal in Cambodia found the Khmer Rouge’s former head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, and “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, 92, guilty of genocide on Friday
  • Let this be a message to other perpetrators of mass atrocities: US State Department

PHNOM PENH: The US has welcomed Cambodia’s landmark genocide verdict and said it served as a warning that perpetrators of mass atrocities, “even those at the highest levels,” will eventually face justice for their crimes.
A war crimes tribunal in Cambodia found the Khmer Rouge’s former head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, and “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, 92, guilty of genocide on Friday and sentenced them to life in prison.
The historic verdict comes nearly 40 years after the Khmer Rouge were expelled from Cambodia following a four-year reign of terror that left about a quarter of the population dead from starvation, mass executions, and overwork.
“Their crimes were numerous, calculated, and grave,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said, commending the courage of the victims and witnesses who testified during the trial.
“Let this be a message to other perpetrators of mass atrocities, even those at the highest levels, including former heads of state, that such actions will not be tolerated and they will ultimately be brought to justice,” she said in a statement.
Cambodia’s neighbor Myanmar has come under fire in recent months for its handling of the Rohingya crisis, which United Nations investigators believe amounts to “genocide” given the atrocities perpetrated on the stateless Muslim minority.
Myanmar has denied the allegations but UN investigators have urged that the case be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation and prosecution.
Despite the show of support for war crimes prosecution, the US is one of the few Western countries that is not signed up to the ICC, which has a mandate to investigate the gravest offenses including genocide and crimes against humanity.
The country’s refusal to be party to the body erupted again following an ICC request to open an investigation into alleged war crimes by the US military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan, especially over the abuse of detainees.
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and threatened to arrest and sanction judges and other officials of the court if it moved to charge any American.