Papua New Guinea to break with international consensus and open Israeli embassy in Jerusalem
The Oceania state will move its consulate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, where the diplomatic mission will be converted to an embassy, Israeli media reported.
Israel Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko discussed the move last week.
The move has been reportedly spearheaded by the pro-Israel Christian evangelical group International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ), which is based in the city.
"The ICEJ is thrilled that our many decades of work in building Christian support for Israel in the South Pacific region is bearing good fruit through these recent decisions of Fiji and Papua New Guinea to open embassies in Jerusalem," David Parsons, ICEJ spokesman, said according to The Times of Israel.
"We hope and expect more Oceania nations to also ascend to Jerusalem soon."
Fiji, currently governed by a right-wing Christian party, is also expected to make a similar move.
Palestinian Christians and church leaders are vehemently opposed to such moves in Jerusalem and like all Palestinians are victims of the Israeli occupation.
It comes despite Papua New Guinea backing a UN condemnation of a US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2018.
Jerusalem was illegally occupied by Israel in 1967 and formally annexed in 1980 when the Knesset denoted it as the capital of Israel.
Most of the international community did not recognise the move and kept their embassies in the coastal city of Tel Aviv. Palestinians view occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of its future state.
Israel and Papua New Guinea established ties in 1978, but diplomatic relations in Israel are currently handled by the Australian embassy.
The country regularly backs Israel in UN votes and was one of only ten countries to abstain on a draft resolution vote supporting Palestinian self-determination. Five countries, including the US, voted against it.
Chad recently opened an embassy in Israel, but opted to go with diplomatic convention and established the mission in Tel Aviv.