For These Reasons, Papua New Guinea Opens an Embassy in Occupied Jerusalem

Murad Jandali | 7 months ago

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The Hebrew newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth revealed that the government of Papua New Guinea, an island with a population of nine million in the Pacific Ocean, will open an embassy in occupied Jerusalem (al-Quds), following a telephone conversation between its Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko and his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen.

It is noteworthy that the vast majority of countries that have an official diplomatic presence in “Israel” have their embassies in Tel Aviv, with the exception of the United States, Kosovo, Guatemala, and Honduras, which have embassies in Jerusalem.

Palestine, the Arab countries, and the European Union had announced their rejection and condemnation of moving any embassies to the city of Jerusalem until the Jerusalem issue is resolved in negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

“Israel” has occupied the eastern part of the city of Jerusalem since 1967, after occupying the western part of it in 1948.

For “Israel,” the transfer of embassies to Jerusalem by its allies is an important political goal that strengthens its claim to the city.

 

Pro-‘Israel’

On August 28, Israeli media, including Channel 14 and The Times of Israel, reported that Papua New Guinea would open an embassy in Jerusalem (al-Quds) the week of September 5 during Prime Minister James Marape’s visit to “Israel.”

Channel 14 indicated that “Israel” is helping Papua New Guinea through the International Aid Agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, especially in the fields of agriculture, medicine, and humanitarian aid.

It added, “On the other hand, Papua New Guinea has tended in recent years not to support anti-Israel voices at the United Nations,” according to Anadolu Agency.

Last February, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Papua New Guinea would open its first embassy in the country sometime in 2023.

Papua New Guinea does not currently have an embassy in “Israel,” but it does have a consulate near Tel Aviv. Israeli relations with the island nation are handled through its embassy in Australia.

Papua New Guinea is a Pacific nation, and the island nation’s geopolitical importance is growing as China and the U.S. compete for influence in the country and its Pacific neighbors.

The new Papua New Guinea might face pressures from Muslim-majority countries, particularly its close neighbor, Indonesia, following its decision.

In the same context, Hamas condemned Papua New Guinea’s intention to open an embassy in occupied Jerusalem.

“This step constitutes a flagrant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, and it will not grant the occupation any legitimacy over our occupied land,” said movement spokesman Jihad Taha in a statement.

Taha called on the authorities in Papua New Guinea to reverse this decision, which violates international law and UN resolutions, considering Jerusalem an occupied Palestinian city.

 

For Economic Purposes

Papua New Guinea’s opening of its embassy in occupied Jerusalem is a decision long sought by pro-“Israel” church groups in the largely Christian Pacific nation.

This comes in conjunction with the efforts of Papua New Guinean Prime Minister James Marape to promote foreign investment.

He pledges to voters to make the country, rich in resources but underdeveloped, the richest Black Christian state.

Marape has previously told parliament that “Israel” is important because of its agricultural technology.

On August 26, Marape announced that he would attend the opening of the embassy on September 5, and also said that a new law would be introduced to officially declare Papua New Guinea a Christian state.

Government and church officials said that a delegation of priests would accompany Marape to attend the opening.

The visit would allow Netanyahu to strengthen his political and diplomatic position amid stagnation on other fronts for his far-right government.

Papua New Guinea–Israel Jewish Council announced, last January, that a close relationship with “Israel” is necessary to achieve Papua New Guinea’s economic goals in the areas of agriculture, health, and technology, adding that the presence of a diplomatic mission in occupied Jerusalem recognizes Israeli claim to Jerusalem as its capital based on biblical and secular history.

 

Israeli Efforts

News of the opening of the Papua New Guinea embassy comes in the wake of two similar announcements from other countries, as Sierra Leone announced on August 25 its intention to open an embassy in Jerusalem (al-Quds).

Sierra Leone, which is located in West Africa, established its relationship with “Israel” in 1961 when it gained its independence. In 1973, relations were severed, then renewed again in 1992.

“Israel” also does not have a resident embassy in Sierra Leone, as the Israeli ambassador to Ghana, Shlomit Sufa, is a non-resident ambassador to Sierra Leone.

Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is holding talks with two other African countries in preparation for opening an embassy in occupied Jerusalem, the first of which is Malawi, with a population of 21 million.

It pointed out that the Israeli occupation is preparing to announce that Liberia, with five million people in West Africa, will open an official office in occupied Jerusalem, making it its first embassy in “Israel,” but so far, this step has not actually taken place yet.

In turn, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said in mid-August that Paraguay would move its embassy to Jerusalem this year. He also announced last week that Uruguay had decided to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem.

It is noteworthy that Paraguay had held the opening ceremony of its embassy in Jerusalem, and it was classified at the time as the third country, after the United States and Guatemala, to take this step.

However, in September 2018, the former Paraguayan Foreign Minister, Luis Alberto Castiglioni, canceled the transfer of his country’s embassy to “Israel” to the city of Jerusalem and restarted the offices that had already been moved in the city of Tel Aviv.

 

Political Crisis

The Israeli government considers Jerusalem (al-Quds) an indivisible capital, although this is not internationally recognized. Palestinians say East Jerusalem should be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In mid-2018, the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, followed by Guatemala, Kosovo, and Honduras, while the vast majority of countries reject Israeli requests to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

Last March, Hebrew media reported that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban intended to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a move aimed at supporting his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing an internal political crisis due to his government’s controversial plans related to reforming the judicial system.

The Times of Israel newspaper quoted senior officials in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying that the Hungarian and Israeli prime ministers had reached an agreement on this step in recent days.

This step, if it actually happens, would make Hungary the first EU member state to open an embassy in Jerusalem, which the EU opposes in light of the absence of a peace agreement between “Israel” and the Palestinians.

In September 2022, then-British Prime Minister Liz Truss informed her Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, that she was considering moving her country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem, which sparked widespread controversy, and then she submitted her resignation and the discussion on this issue ended.

In May 2022, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid — after meeting with Suriname Foreign Minister Albert Ramdin — said that Suriname had decided to open an embassy in Jerusalem soon, but Suriname announced its withdrawal about a month later.

In February 2021, the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Mbasogo, announced that he would move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city of Jerusalem, but that has not happened yet.

In September 2020, Serbia signed an economic normalization agreement with “Israel” in Washington under the auspices of former U.S. President Donald Trump. The agreement included moving the Serbian embassy to Jerusalem by July 2021, but that did not happen.

In October 2018, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that his government was open to recognizing Jerusalem (al-Quds) as the capital of “Israel” and moving its embassy to the occupied city, but his country refrained from moving the embassy in practice.