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Fiji to open embassy in Jerusalem in early 2024

Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Fijian counterpart in New York last month.

Fijian pilgrims arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Sept. 29, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of ICEJ.
Fijian pilgrims arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Sept. 29, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of ICEJ.

The South Pacific island nation of Fiji will inaugurate an embassy in Jerusalem next year, the country’s deputy prime minister said on Monday, as faith-based diplomacy continues to flourish.

The remarks come as hundreds of pilgrims from Fiji are in Israel to take part in the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebrations organized by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, following last week’s first chartered flight to the Holy Land from the Oceania archipelago.

“The commitment is there from the leadership,” Deputy Prime Minister Viliame Gavoka said in a telephone interview with JNS. “We are really keen to see that happen as soon as possible.”

He noted that Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka confirmed the embassy decision in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly general debate in New York in September.

“Our desire to have an embassy in Jerusalem is very strong,” said Gavoka of the nation of nearly 1 million. “We as a people feel very close to the descendants of Abraham and want to connect with Israel in its entirety.”

He said that the inauguration of the embassy, which is expected in early 2024, will bring Jerusalem closer to the Pacific.

“We are at the ends of the earth, and you are at the center of the earth,” Gavoka said.

First chartered flight

Last week, more than 250 Christian pilgrims from Fiji arrived in Israel on the first chartered flight between the two countries, to take part in the Feast of Tabernacles celebrations organized by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, an evangelical organization that advocates for Israel.

The 24-hour voyage, which included a stopover in Hong Kong, also brought pilgrims from Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

“The ICEJ branch in Fiji is having an amazing impact on their country’s relations with Israel both by arranging their national airline’s first flight to Tel Aviv and advocating for the opening of an embassy of Fiji in Jerusalem,” said Jürgen Bühler, president of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

“They are setting an example for pro-Israel Christians worldwide on what can be accomplished through prayer and determined efforts to stand with the Jewish state and people,” he said.

In the interview, Gavoka said that “this is just the beginning,” noting that a couple of charter flights will fly to Israel every year.

Gavoka, who also serves as acting prime minister, said that his country was keenly watching the festive events from the Holy Land online.

“The whole of Fiji wants to be in Jerusalem,” he said.

The select five

Five countries currently have their embassies in Israel’s capital: the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Kosovo and Papua New Guinea.

Paraguay, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also announced their intention to open embassies in Jerusalem.

All the other countries that have ties with Israel still maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv or its suburbs.

Then-President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in 2018 set the stage for other countries to follow suit in the following years, with additional nations expected to make similar announcements in the near future.

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