May 22, 2010
In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict
The Czechs are furious: Diplomatic humiliationItamar Eichner, Yediot, May 18 2010 [Hebrew originalhere and at bottom of post] Israel is embarrassed: This week the Czech Republic made an official protest of what it calls the humiliation of its foreign minister Jan Kohout at Ben Gurion airport. The incident occurred May 6 when the minister left Israel after an official visit to Israel and the PA. Kohout, a confirmed friend of Israel, entered the Masada lounge at Ben-Gurion Airport where he was detained for half an hour with his entourage. According to the report by the Israeli ambassador in Prague Yaacov Levy, the border police officer examined the 44 passports of the delegation, and contrary to diplomatic etiquette addressed the minister by his first name. “Then she discovered that there was no entry stamp into Israel on Kohout’s passport,” said Levy. “As a result, quite a nasty verbal altercation ensued between her and the Czech head of the Middle East desk about whether they could leave Israel anyway.” And this was not the end of the diplomatic incident: Kohout’s Czech bodyguard had to explain why he went to Egypt in the past and claimed he had accompanied the minister. Then all of the members of the delegation underwent detailed questioning, and the gifts they brought with them from the PA — including a picture from Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to the Czech minister — went through metal detectors. “At this point somebody from the security authorities tried to explain in flowery language the dangers of receiving gifts from our neighbors,” Levy wrote in his report. The long process made the members of the entourage nervous and tense and in the words of the ambassador, “they voiced heartfelt compliments for the Israeli bureaucracy.” Deputy Commander Shlomi Saguy, spokesman of the police central district, said last night in response: “The Czech Foreign Minister receives special status at the request of the Foreign Ministry. During his exit from Israel it emerged that he did not have an entry stamp into Israel. After an inquiry with the shift head, permission was given for his exit without delay.” Police sources claimed the Foreign Ministry was responsible for the mishap, because it did not make sure to register the entry into Israel.