PAPUA New Guineans planning to visit Israel and the biblical sites can do so without visa hassles.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced this after the signing of the agreement on visa exemption between PNG and Israel by Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato and his Israeli counterpart on Tuesday.
The deal was reaffirmed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assuring PNG that Israel was willing to give it a prime spot at Jerusalem and not Tel Aviv where all other diplomatic missions are located.
Mr O’Neill gave a commitment that PNG will open an embassy because thousands of Papua New Guineans visit Israel and many Israeli businessmen were visiting PNG for trade and investment.
“It is important that our diplomatic relationship to be lifted to the next level — we want to open up a new embassy here. We are hoping that Israel will also open up a small embassy in Port Moresby for the Pacific region.”
“One of the key achievements of this meeting is that after the signing of the agreement, there will be no more visas required for Papua New Guineans and no visa required for Israelis coming to PNG, so you can arrive here without a visa and you can automatically come and visit the holy sites — so that’s very good news for Papua New Guineans.”
He said Papua New Guinea highly values its bilateral ties with Israel as a place of special significance — being the birthplace of the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, and periodic pilgrimages are made which will be better facilitated when PNG establishes an embassy in Israel.
Prime Minister O’Neill and his delegation visited the historical biblical sites yesterday which as tourist destinations attract over 3 million people to Israel a year. The PNG chief executive and his wife Madam Linda Babao were accompanied by Hela Governor Anderson Agiru and Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll on a helicopter tour while the main delegation travelled by road.
The delegation drove through Armageddon valley to Nazareth, then to the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River where Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, then visited Capernaum, where the first Christian church is located. The delegation then visited Mount of Beatitudes, famously known in the Bible when Jesus gave the sermon on the Mount and miraculously fed more than 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish.
Mr O’Neill said the signing of the MoU on visa exemption between PNG and Israel, would enable PNG to easily explore new trade and investment opportunities and could further draw from Israel’s vast experiences.
ONE PNG / Post Courier