What’s the capital of Israel?
What might seem like a simple bit of trivia is instead the topic of a lengthy and hotly-contested debate.
Officially, Israel designated Jerusalem as its capital shortly after its independence was declared in the late 1940s. It is currently the location of much of the country’s government and national institutions.
But at the time the state of Israel was established, half of the city – East Jerusalem – was not part of Israel. While the country annexed that half after the Six Day War in 1967, that action, and the claim of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, is not recognized by the UN.
Internationally, most countries follow the UN’s lead; few recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital, instead keeping their embassies in Tel Aviv.
The debate has now entered Czech classrooms, reports iDnes.cz, where some atlases used in local schoolbooks have designated Jerusalem as Israeli’s capital.
The Palestinian Embassy in Prague approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the textbook, and then the issue was taken up with the Ministry of Education.
Their solution? The textbooks will be recalled, and from next year will identify Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel.
But the crisis hasn’t exactly been averted. While the issue may seem minor, word has quickly spread internationally as the country finds itself in a delicate position.
“Czech publisher under fire for listing Jerusalem as capital of Israel in atlas,” proclaims The Guardian.
But the Ministry’s solution is also under fire.
“ACT NOW! Protest to Czech Republic for Erasing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital in Schoolbooks,” reads a headline on unitedwithisrael.com that urges readers to call, email, and write to the Facebook page of the Czech Embassy in Washington, D.C.
What’s the Czech Republic to do?