Papua New Guinea is set to open its embassy in Jerusalem next week during a visit to Israel by Prime Minister James Marape, according to an Israeli official.
The inauguration of the embassy will take place on 05 September, according to Channel 14, which first reported on the development, without citing sources.
The Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report, but an Israeli official told The Times of Israel that the “details are not mistaken.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Marape on the day of the ceremony, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
In February, the Foreign Ministry announced that Port Moresby would be making the move, after Foreign Minister Eli Cohen spoke with his Papua New Guinean counterpart, Justin Tkachenko.
News of Papua New Guinea’s embassy opening comes on the heels of two similar announcements from other countries. On Friday, Sierra Leone said that it would open an embassy in Jerusalem.
Paraguay announced the week before that it would reopen its embassy in the Israeli capital too.
Currently, the U.S, Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo have embassies in Jerusalem.
Israel sees the moves as strengthening its claim to the city as its capital, though most foreign countries situate their embassies in or near Tel Aviv.
Hungary and Fiji are expected to announce embassy moves in the coming months as well.
Papua New Guinea does not currently have an embassy in Israel, but does maintain a consulate near Tel Aviv. Israel’s relations with the island nation are handled by its embassy in Australia.
The two countries established ties in 1978.
Papua New Guinea is one of the Pacific nations that regularly vote with Israel at the United Nations, and Tkachenko told Cohen during their call that his country would continue to do so. In December, Papua New Guinea was one of the 25 countries that joined Israel in opposing the UN General Assembly resolution requesting that the International Court of Justice weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
However, in 2018 it voted to condemn the U.S recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while five other Pacific nations rejected the condemnation.
The island nation’s geopolitical importance is on the rise as China and the U.S jockey for influence in the country and neighboring states in the Pacific Ocean. U.S President Joe Biden canceled a much-anticipated trip there in May, sending U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his stead.
SOURCE: TIMES OF ISRAEL/PACNEWS