JERUSALEM, Israel – The spotlight on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent U.S. trip focused on his meetings with Elon Musk and President Joe Biden, and the prospect of normalization with Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, another significant development took place, with more nations deciding to move their embassies to Jerusalem. Five nations have now moved their embassies: the U.S., Guatemala, Honduras, Kosovo, and Papua New Guinea, and more have pledged to do so.
At the U.N., Netanyahu met with the president of the Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, and announced, “We agreed that Israel will open an embassy in Kinshasa and Congo will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. These are two good announcements and I think they reflect our common desire to upgrade our relations.”
After that, it was Paraguayan President Santiago Pena’s turn, declaring on September 23, “Paraguay will reopen. I will put the embassy where it belongs, in the city of Jerusalem.” He added, “Our history brought us together, the present brings us together, but the future will have us closer than we’ve ever been before.”
Before his U.S. trip, Netanyahu hosted Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape, who committed his country to be the first Asian Pacific nation to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
“Many nations choose not to open their embassies in Jerusalem, but we made the conscious choice,” Marape said. “This has been the universal capital of the nation and people of Israel. For us to call ourselves Christian, paying respect to God would not be complete without recognizing that Jerusalem is the universal capital of the people and nation of Israel.”
Netanyahu replied, “As you correctly said, it’s been our capital for the last three thousand years. This is where so much of our heritage emerged from. This is where our values were forged. This is where our prophets prophesied. This is where so many of the eternal values that we hold dear were created and disseminated to the people of Israel, and from there, to all humanity.”
Marape invited Pastor Joseph Walters to represent Papua New Guinea's Christian community for the embassy move.
“Already the people are excited, especially the Christian populace is so excited that our government has made that move and stand,” Walters explained. “And we believe that with our connections to Israel, the continued friendship we have, and the building of the embassy, will bring blessings to us, you know, as promised by God in Genesis 12:2-3, to Father Abraham.”
Walters expects the move will bring economic benefits to his country. “Big time for Papua New Guinea: economic, technology, health, power supplies, and whatever Israel can offer in the agriculture sector—we’re all excited and looking forward to that,” the pastor said.
Tomas Sandell attended the ceremony and works as an advocate for Israel at the U.N. and in the European Parliament. “No other nation would have their capital—the location of their capital—questioned,” he insisted. “I mean, it’s a given. It’s up to the Israelis to decide what is the capital of the Jewish state, and then for other countires to follow the diplomatic protocol and just accept it, and move their embassy to Jerusalem, in this case.
Sandell continued, “I also think it’s, a minimum sign of, of appreciation of, the Jewish state and the Jewish people to just recognize the importance of Jerusalem that goes back thousands of years. And who are we to say that the Jewish people don’t have the right to Jerusalem as their capital, or that it should be divided somehow? I think this goes completely against all the logic of international politics today. We’re not talking about dividing Berlin anymore. We’re not talking about dividing Paris, even though there are those who, you know, have a different religion and ideologies. But in the case of Jerusalem, there are still so many nations who just treat it very differently.”
If normalization with Saudi Arabia does materialize, it’s likely this trend of more nations deciding to move their embassies to Jerusalem will increase.