PRAGUE (JTA) – A school atlas that labels Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will no longer be used in Czech schools, following a complaint by the Palestinian ambassador in Prague to the Czech Education Ministry.
The atlas, first published by the Czech firm Shocart in 2004, was approved by the ministry for use in Czech elementary and secondary schools in 2011. However, after the envoy’s complaint, the ministry said it would demand the publisher alter the labelling, according to a report by the Czech newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes.
“We have not been so far approached by the Education Ministry. But if this is a problem, we will change the marking on the map of Israel,” Karel Krsak, CEO of the publishing firm, told JTA on Wednesday.
“I have been to Israel several times. It is a sovereign country, and I think it is up to them to decide what their capital is. I believe we should respect that,” Krsak said. “But we are going to apply to renew the ministry’s approval in a month’s time, and we’ll make the change, even if it is something I personally don’t agree with,” he added.
The Czech Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to queries from JTA, and neither did the Embassy of Palestine in the Czech Republic. Like nearly all member states of the United Nations, the Czech Republic does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital pending a comprehensive peace agreement, and maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.
“I very much appreciate the ministry’s decision,” Palestinian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Khaled Alattrash, told Mlada fronta Dnes. “The atlas says something that is unacceptable for us but also goes against international law and the official position of the Czech Republic and the EU,” the diplomat added.
Ynet reported that the education ministry would require the company to name Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.