Papua New Guinea is set to become the first nation to open an honorary consulate in the biblical heartland, after inaugurating an embassy in Jerusalem earlier this year, Israel’s foreign minister announced on Monday.
The move by the strongly Christian Pacific nation is a mix of faith-based diplomacy and a desire for increased trade ties, and comes as several other countries have announced their intention to inaugurate embassies in Jerusalem next year.
The honorary consulate is to be located in Ariel, some 25 miles east of Tel Aviv.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen revealed the news in a meeting with leaders of the Yesha council, the umbrella organization of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
In his remarks, Israel’s top diplomat praised Papua New Guinea for its friendship and strong support of Israel in international forums.
Jerusalem embassy launch
Papua New Guinea inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem in September, becoming the fifth country to maintain a diplomatic mission in Israel’s capital city.
“Today is a milestone moment for my country to give respect to the People of Israel to the fullest,” Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said at the event. “It entrenches our relationship deeper and elevates our relationship higher.”
“As Christians, paying respect to God would not be complete without recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he added.
“This [move] will not only cherish the past but seize the future,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The fact that you have an embassy here will help us realize our potential,” he continued, voicing the hope that Israeli entrepreneurs and tourists alike visit Papua New Guinea.
Faith and trade
The two countries established ties in 1978, just three years after the island nation gained its independence from Australia.
Israel’s relations with Papua New Guinea, a country with more than 13 million residents which regularly votes with Israel at the United Nations, are handled by its embassy in Australia. The Papua New Guinea premier voiced the hope that Israel would now open an embassy in his country as well.
The Ambassador from Papua New Guinea is due to take up his position in Jerusalem in February.
In addition to shared Judeo-Christian values, the largely underdeveloped country seeks to increase trade with Israel in the fields of agriculture, health and technology.