Papua New Guinea to open Israel embassy in Jerusalem

Pacific island nation to join handful of countries operating from city whose status is at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Close up of PNG Prime Minister James Marape
The embassy will be opened next week when Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape visits Israel [File: Lillian Suwanrumpha/Reuters]

Papua New Guinea (PNG) will open an embassy in Jerusalem next week during a visit by Prime Minister James Marape, according to a spokesperson for his office.

“Yes, that is correct,” the spokesperson told the Reuters news agency on Monday when asked whether the country was set to open the embassy and if Marape planned to visit Israel next week.

Papua New Guinea established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1978 and currently maintains a consulate near Tel Aviv, while Israel handles its relations with PNG through its embassy in Australia.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in February that PNG would open its first embassy in the country sometime in 2023.

Citing unnamed sources, Israel’s Channel 14 earlier reported the inauguration of the embassy would take place on September 5. The Times of Israel cited an unnamed Israeli official saying the “details are not mistaken”.

Most countries with an official diplomatic presence in Israel maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.

The United States moved its embassy to the city in May 2018 a few months after then-President Donald Trump announced the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Kosovo, Guatemala and Honduras also operate from Jerusalem.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East conflict.

Israel captured the eastern part of the city in 1967 and annexed it in 1980 in violation of international law. The Palestinian Authority (PA) wants East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state, but Israeli leaders insist that the city should be the undivided capital of Israel.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters