(JTA) – A school atlas that labels Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will not be removed from Czech schools, as originally announced.
The Czech Education Ministry said last week that the atlas would be removed following a complaint by the Palestinian ambassador in Prague to the ministry. But on Tuesday night, Education Minister Katerina Valachova told Czech Radio that Jerusalem would not be removed from the textbooks after all.
“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital from the viewpoint of the declaration of the country to which this relates, which means Israel,” Valachova said in the radio interview, according to The Jerusalem Post. “If there is a sentence relating to all of the international steps, I believe that this fact will not offend either side.”
The Czech Republic does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital pending a comprehensive peace agreement and maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Sunday wrote a letter to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka calling on him to revoke the decision.
“Jerusalem is on the map!” Barkat said in a statement Wednesday, adding, “Truth has indeed overcome lies.”
He also said: “I’m thankful to the Czech government for making the right choice and for refusing to surrender to Palestinian incitement and lies.
Barkat said the friendship between the Czech and Jewish peoples has deep and historical roots.
“Future generations of Czech students will continue to learn the truth: Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and the heart and soul of the Jewish people,” he wrote.
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 labeling to show Tel Aviv as the capital, according to a report last week by the Czech newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes.
Czech Jews had organized a protest for Wednesday in Prague.