Govt urged to clarify stance on Israel

The PNG Council of Churches has called on the Marape-Steven government to come clear with respect to PNG’s relationship with Israel.

This follows the former Foreign Affairs Minister’s voting against Israel on whether or not Jerusalem should be recognised as its capital.

Papua New Guinea was one of the 128 United Nations Member countries who voted to reject the United States’ move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A vote taken during an emergency meeting on 21 December 2017.

PNG was represented by former Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Pato, whose decision did not go down well with many Christians.

“And we had an audience with the former prime minister, advising him that that decision is wrong and based on the Bible, the consequence can be destructive to us,” said chairman of the Body of Christ, Rev Joseph Walters.

“And so we are calling on the government to come clear with its position with Israel. And if it rescinds the vote taken at UN against Israel, and also to come clear with the former Prime Minister O’Neill’s decision, whether or not to build our embassy in Jerusalem. Those are matters pending and the Christian population is praying and waiting and anxious to know.”

The Body of Christ also called on the government to look at its bilateral trade and relations with countries where Christians are severely persecuted.

“And many of them are here, and many of them are doing business, many of them are benefitting and many of them are profiting from a Christian nation, whose Christian families in those nations are suffering with severe persecution,” said Rev Walters.

“Whether you are talking about China, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, if you look at the history of those countries and the way they treat Christians is very very scary and very unbelievable.”

The issue was put to Deputy Prime Minister, Davis Steven.

“Issues such as our position with the nation of Israel will be decided by cabinet when the department and the appropriate minister brings the issue to us,” said DPM Steven.

“I’m happy to say that the former Prime Minster and former Foreign Minister have taken steps to formalise our relationships and based on the brief that’s before us and what Cabinet will decide, our nation will be informed on the way forward.”

128 countries had voted to reject U President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to make Jerusalem Israel’s capital. Only nine countries sided with the US, while 35 countries including Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, abstained from voting.

Sally Pokiton