A First: Consulate to be opened in Judea and Samaria

Papua New Guinea announces plans to open consulate in Israeli city in Samaria – the first diplomatic office in an Israeli town over the Green Line.

By Susan Tawil, World Israel News

Papua New Guinea (PNG), half of the island of New Guinea, north of Australia in the Pacific Ocean, made an unprecedented move on Monday, announcing its intention to open a diplomatic consulate in Samaria, the northern half of the area sometimes referred to as the “West Bank.”

The news was welcomed by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who praised the island nation for its friendship and support of Israel.

The PNG consulate is slated to open in Ariel, one of the 127 Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, located about 25 miles east of Tel Aviv.

Israel views the prospective consulate as lending international support to its claim of ownership of this indigenous Israeli region.

Shlomo Ne’eman, Chairman of the Yesha Council lauded the move in statement this week.

“The opening of a consulate in Judea and Samaria is an official expression of the fact that foreign countries recognize Judea and Samaria as an integral and inseparable part of the State of Israel.”

Papua New Guinea became an independent nation from Australia in 1975, and opened diplomatic relations with Israel in 1978. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, in the realm of the British Commonwealth, with King Charles III as its monarch.

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Bob Dadae is the Governor General appointed by the King as his representative, and James Marape is the island’s elected Prime Minister.

With a population over 95% Christian, Papua New Guinea has maintained strong ties with Israel.

In September, Papua New Guinea relocated its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, becoming one of only five  countries to do so, including the U.S.

At the ceremony, PNG Prime Minister Marape cited his country’s Christian identity in explaining the close ties with Israel.

“For us to call ourselves Christian, paying respect to God will not be complete without recognizing that Jerusalem is the universal capital of the people and nation of Israel.”

In its voting record at the United Nations, Papua New Guinea almost invariably abstains from the organization’s numerous anti-Israel proposals.

With the proposed new consulate in Samaria, the developing nation of PNG hopes to strengthen its ties to Israel and encourage increased trade, especially in the areas of agriculture, health, and technology.