A Palestinian leader has hit out a suggestion by the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, that the Czech embassy in Israel should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In a statement, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s Saeb Erekat said the proposal interfered with the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and wrecked efforts to reach an agreement. Mr. Erekat called for the Arab League and other organisations to convene a special session to discuss the matter. Mr. Zeman put the idea forward at a festival of Israeli culture in the Czech city of Hradec Králové on Monday. No countries have embassies in Jerusalem as the status of the city is a key issue in the conflict. President Zeman, who is known for his support of Israel, begins a state visit to the country on Sunday.
The Ministry of Education plans to ask public broadcaster Czech Television to broadcast more programmes on its children’s station in English. It made a statement to that effect following a meeting on Friday between the minister of education, Dalibor Štys, and representatives of the Czech Secondary School Union. The students’ group recently made headlines with a call for a reduction in the number of dubbed shows on TV screens in the Czech Republic, which they say would improve people’s language skills.
The Czech Office for the Protection of Competition has revoked a contract that Czech Railways signed with Austrian Federal Railways for 11 locomotives, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Friday. Czech Railways leased the Siemens Taurus locomotives from the Austrian rail operator in 2008. However, the Czech anti-trust agency said the deal was in fact a purchase that was concluded without a public tender. Czech Railways now face a fine of up to CZK 4 million.
Preparations are being made for the 15th Czech Street Festival in New York. The annual event – featuring Czech food and drink, workshops and live music – is taking place on Saturday afternoon and evening in front of the Bohemian National Hall on Manhattan’s East 73rd St. This year it will also serve as a celebration of the fifth anniversary of the reopening of the Bohemian National Hall, which houses the Czech Center and other institutions representing the country.
A new British-made documentary entitled Lidice – A Light Across the Sea was screened in the Central Bohemian municipality on Thursday night. The village of Lidice was razed to the ground by the Nazis in June 1942 and the film focuses on the work of English doctor and Labour MP Barnett Stross, who soon afterwards started a collection to rebuild it. The mayor of the present-day Lidice, which is a few hundred metres from where the original village stood, said after the screening that it might not be there without Stross’s efforts.
The Prague soccer clubs Slavia and Sparta received fines of CZK 200,000 over crowd trouble at the former’s Eden Stadium during a derby last Saturday. The Czech Football Association’s disciplinary committee also said that Slavia would be forced to play one league game behind closed doors if such scenes were repeated at their ground in the next three months. Fans of both clubs invaded the pitch after the final whistle and the police made over 80 arrests.
Slovan Liberec beat the Portuguese side Estoril Praia 2:1 at home in a Europa League game on Thursday. The visitors had one player sent off towards the end of the first half and another dismissed with eight minutes remaining. Liberec are second in their group, with four points from two matches, behind Sevilla who have the maximum six. The north Bohemian side play host to the Spaniards in a fortnight’s time.
The Czech players Tomáš Berdych and Petra Kvitová have both reached the semi-finals of tennis’s China Open in Beijing. After overcoming John Isner of the US 7-5 6-2 on Friday, Berdych will face Spain’s Rafael Nadal for a place in the final. Kvitová, meanwhile, saw off local favourite Li Na 4-6 6-2 6-4 to set up a meeting with the Serb Jelena Jankovic.
Record low temperatures were registered at several weather stations in the Czech Republic on Friday morning. Some 25 stations that have been in operation for 50 years saw new lows for this date, while the coldest place in the country – with -10.9 degrees Celsius – was Rokytská slať in Šumava, south Bohemia.
The right-of-centre TOP 09 group has come in first in a mock election held at more than 430 Czech secondary schools on Wednesday and Thursday, three weeks before polls open for a real general election. TOP 09, which was part of the previous coalition government, received 17.8 percent of the mock vote, followed by the Pirate Party and ANO, a group founded by Czech multibillionaire Andrej Babiš. More than 50,000 secondary school students aged 15 and over took part in the voting, organized by the human rights NGO People in Need to popularize elections with first-time voters.