Papua New Guinea breaks international consensus with 'God-inspired' Jerusalem embassy opening

Papua New Guinea breaks international consensus with 'God-inspired' Jerusalem embassy opening
Papua New Guinea is only the fifth country in the world to open an embassy in West Jerusalem, with its prime minister claiming the move was 'inspired by God'.
4 min read
06 September, 2023
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape (centre) opened the embassy with Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu attending [Getty]

Papua New Guinea has broken with international consensus on the status of Jerusalem by opening an Israeli embassy in the west of the city on Tuesday.

The Pacific nation became only the fifth country in the world to open an embassy in Jerusalem after the US, Honduras, Kosovo and Guatemala made similar moves.

Israel wants all countries with a diplomatic presence in the country to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem claiming the city as its undivided capital. Palestinians want the east of the city, which has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, as the capital of their future state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the opening of the Jerusalem embassy saying: "This will not only enable us to cherish the past but also seize the future."


Office costs for the mission - currently located in a technology park until a permanent location can be found - will be paid for by Israel for the next two years.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape attended the ceremony, claiming that the decision to move the mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was inspired by God.

"[We opened this embassy] because of our shared heritage, acknowledging the creator God, the Yahweh God of Israel, the Yahweh God of Isaac and Abraham," Marape told Netanyahu.

"You [Israel] have been the great custodian of the moral values that were passed for humanity."

Papua New Guinea said it would move its embassy to Jerusalem in February in a move reportedly spearheaded by pro-Israel Christian evangelical group International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ).

"Many nations choose not to open their embassies in Jerusalem but we made the conscious choice," Marap saeid at the opening.

"This has been the universal capital of the nation and people of Israel. For us to call ourselves Christians, paying respect to God will not be complete without recognising that Jerusalem is the universal capital of the people and nation of Israel."

Marape asked Netanyahu to open an embassy in the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby although the Israeli foreign ministry told The Times of Israel it has no plans for such a move.

Fiji, another Christian-majority Pacific state, announced in June it would also open an embassy in Jerusalem.

Hungary, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone are expected to open embassies in Jerusalem soon following recent outreach by Israel Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

Papua New Guinea and Israel are only minor trading partners with less than $1 million annual trade between them, according to Al-Jazeera.

Netanyahu pledged to ramp up collaboration with the Pacific state in the fields of agriculture, health, water, and technology via the new embassy.

Israel's push to have more states informally recognise Jerusalem as its capital via the embassy openings there has mostly been focused on smaller states in the Pacific region and South and Central America.

Few of Israel's European allies appear willing to make the controversial move, which violates a long-standing UN resolution on the status of Jerusalem.

Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official Wassel Abu Youssef claimed that Israel was "looking for any country - even if that country can only be seen under a microscope - so it can claim there are countries opening embassies in Jerusalem", according to Al Jazeera.

Most countries view no party as having legal sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem.

In 1947, a UN resolution partitioning Palestine decreed that the city would be administered as a "corpus separatum" by the UN, but instead its western half was occupied by Israel and its eastern half, which has a Palestinian majority, was captured by Jordan following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Israel later occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and illegally annexed it in 1980 in a move not recognised by the global community.

Former US President Donald Trump sparked huge anger in the Arab world when he announced the US embassy in Israel would move to Jerusalem in 2018, with similar pledges by other allies of the US and Israel.