On Tuesday, Papua New Guinea inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem, marking its status as the fifth country to establish a full diplomatic mission in a city whose geopolitical significance remains an issue in the Middle East.
This Pacific nation’s embassy joins those of the United States, Kosovo, Guatemala, and Honduras in Jerusalem, whereas most countries maintain their diplomatic presence in Tel Aviv, Israel’s primary economic center.
While Israel asserts Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital, advocating for all embassies to be based there, a majority of the international community does not acknowledge Israeli sovereignty over the entire city. They believe that the city’s status should be resolved through negotiations.
The Palestinians seek to establish their independent state with its capital in the eastern sector of Jerusalem, which Israel captured during the 1967 Middle East war and subsequently annexed, an action not recognized by the international community.
According to Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape, Israel will cover the embassy’s expenses for the first two years. The embassy is situated in a high-rise building opposite Jerusalem’s largest shopping mall.
Marape also expressed his commitment to support Israel at the United Nations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel attended the embassy opening ceremony, which provided a temporary respite from stalled regional peace efforts and strained relations with Washington.
Marape stated during the embassy’s inauguration that many nations choose not to establish their embassies in Jerusalem, but Papua has consciously made this choice. He emphasized the significance of recognizing Jerusalem as the universal capital of the Israeli people and nation in line with their Christian beliefs.
The Palestine Liberation Organization criticized Israel’s efforts, suggesting that they are seeking recognition from any country, even if it’s of minimal international significance.
Papua New Guinea, situated in the eastern part of the West Pacific Island of New Guinea, has an economy primarily based on agriculture and mining. Its bilateral trade with Israel amounts to just $1 million annually, as reported by Israeli authorities. Netanyahu highlighted that the new embassy would facilitate the development of agriculture, healthcare, water resources, and technology projects, aiming to embrace both the past and the future through this establishment.