Petr Pavel at Prague Castle. Credit: Petr Pavel, via Facebook.

President Pavel Confirms Visit To Israel and Qatar

Czech President Petr Pavel plans to visit Israel and Qatar, the Presidential Office announced yesterday. In both countries he intends to meet with top political representatives, including Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Thani.

The date of Pavel’s trip has not yet been confirmed.

In Israel, Pavel will hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and War Cabinet member Benny Gantz, as well as meeting the families of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

In Qatar, Pavel will speak with the Emir, as well as with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah. He will also meet his compatriots at the Czech Embassy in Doha.

Israel launched an offensive in Gaza in response to the terrorist attack by Hamas, whose gunmen attacked the Israeli border area on October 7, killing over 1,100 people and kidnapping around 240. One hundred hostages were released at the end of November and 130 people continue to be held. The large-scale Israeli military assault on Gaza has so far killed over 23,000 Palestinians, according to the authorities, mostly women and children. In addition, Israel’s restrictions of food, water, electricity, and communications in the territory has caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and left hundreds of thousands of people without shelter, and at risk of famine and infectious diseases.

Pavel’s rumoured visit has been the focus of recent protests in Prague, which called on Pavel not to show support for Israel while the bombardment of Gaza is taking place. Opponents of Israel’s military action argue that its dramatic consequences for the civilian population of Gaza constitute genocide. Yesterday, hearings began at the International Court of Justice over charges of genocide brought against Israel by the Government of South Africa. 

In Israel, Pavel is visiting one of the military bases near the Gaza Strip which was attacked on 7 October. Israel and the Czech Republic are also expected to sign a memorandum on cyber cooperation.

Shortly after the Hamas attack, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (Pirates) was the first European statesman to visit Israel. Later in October, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (Civic Democrats, ODS) also flew to Israel, while Senate Speaker Milos Vystrcil (ODS) and Chamber of Deputies Speaker Marketa Pekarova Adamova (TOP 09) arrived in Israel together at the beginning of December.

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