Papua New Guinea’s relations with the State of Israel is very important, particularly as PNG seeks to draw from Israel’s development experiences over the last 75 years, Prime Minister Hon. James Marape has said.
Prime Minister Marape said this after a bi-lateral meeting on Tuesday (05.09.23) afternoon with Israeli Foreign Minister His Excellency Mr Eli Cohen, as he prepared to head to the opening of the new PNG Embassy in Jerusalem in the evening.
Accompanying Minister Cohen was Ambassador Roi Rosenblit, the Ambassador of Israel to Papua New Guinea; Mr Rafael Harpaz, Deputy Director General and Head of the Asia/Pacific Division; Mr Yosef Zilberman, Deputy Spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry; Mr David Levy, the Director of the Pacific Department; Mrs Bella Stoller, Spokesperson to the Minister; Ms Tali Elbaz, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mrs Ahuva Spieler, Foreign Policy Director to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Mrs Eynat Shlein, Deputy Director General for the Center for International Cooperation – MASHAV.
“Minister Cohen has been travelling, and I thank him, especially for cutting his travel short to make the meeting with me and my delegation. The bilateral meeting with him was warm, with our discussions well-noted by his team.
“Minister Cohen noted the importance of our relations in developing the Agriculture sector, water resources, and the proposal for a National Guard and Youth Service to harness the youth of PNG in a sustainable and meaningful manner for socio-economic development.
“I am also pleased to announce that PNG has secured agriculture support from the Israeli Development Agency known as MASHAV for innovative agriculture support. Part of this is that our initial PNG students under training currently will be increased immediately to an additional 75 in 2024.
“The MASHAV will also embark on a survey visit later this year to gauge PNG needs before we expect more opportunities on offer by MASHAV in Climate Change, Gender Equity, Community Development and Green Innovation.
“I also had good exchanges with the Israeli Manufacturers Association to connect our businesses and agreed with the establishment of a PNG-Israel Chamber of Commerce to coordinate business, trade and investment activities. An Israeli business delegation is set to visit PNG in early 2024.
“A Joint Declaration of Cooperation was also combined in 2013 and I will ensure the new cooperative bilateral arrangements I discussed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Mr Eli Cohen are factored in to revise this JDC.
“The PNG Government will reciprocate and allocate land to the Israeli Government to establish their Diplomatic Mission in PNG in the immediate future and Prime Minister Netanyahu has accepted my invitation to visit PNG for the ground breaking ceremony.
“A business delegation comprising investors in economic infrastructure development, banking and financing, food production, ICT to mention a few will visit PNG in 2024 seeking business, trade and investment opportunities,” said Prime Minister Marape.
PM Marape added that more recently in the past few years, there has been a marked increase in people-to-people relations at the government level from leaders to ministers and officials.
“The religious pilgrimages by our Christian faithful have also increased and is very uplifting, and continues to flourish among many Papua New Guinean citizens.
“To complement this and ensure continuity, I will be directing the Chief Migration Officer to fully operationalize the Visa Waiver Agreement that was concluded with Israel in 2013 by my predecessor. This will also ensure smooth facilitation of Israeli government, private citizens and tourists and investors arrival in PNG.”
Prime Minister Marape said Israel, with a GDP of USD488.5 billion, knowledge-based economy and high-tech industries, has a lot to offer to PNG in terms of developing PNG’s vast renewable and non-renewable resources, and in the ICT space, health, fisheries, agriculture, defense, security, business, trade and investments.
“The opening of the PNG Embassy in Jerusalem last night with Prime Minister Netanyahu sums it all up. We are the fifth country to establish a Diplomatic Mission in the Jewish Capital. It is the sovereign decision our government has taken because of our strong spiritual connections and shared Christian principles with the State of Israel.
“Let us understand the benefits that we will receive through strategically choosing who our development partners and the assistance we can draw on to support our socio-economic development aspirations through my official international engagements.
“Upon return I need the collective support of all relevant line departments and agencies to take note of the issues I negotiated in as far as it affects them and implement them for the common good of PNG,” concluded Prime Minister Marape.