image Photo: Jorge Novomisky (GPO)

Suriname to open embassy in Jerusalem

Both the South American country and Israel have announced the landmark development.

By Erin Viner

The declaration came as Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid hosted the Foreign Minister of Suriname, Mr. Albert Ramdin.

During the meeting between the two top diplomats, Minister Ramdin said his country will soon “open an embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” said a statement TV7 obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

While stating the date of the opening has yet to be set, Ramdin was cited by Reuters as saying that Paramaribo has now “expressed the intention” and consultations on how and when will begin now.

The northeastern Atlantic Republic appointed non-resident Ambassador to Israel Stevanus Noordzee in March. At the time, the Suriname government said it expected relations with Israel to deepen.

Suriname has a small Jewish community, among populations that are 52.3% Christian, 18.8% Hindu, 14.3% Muslim and 5.6% who observe ‘folk religions.’

So far only four nations – the United States, Honduras, Guatemala and Kosovo – currently base their embassies in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv. In March, Singaporean Foreign Minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan also announced his nation’s decision to open its first embassy in Israel, while Uganda expressed interest in doing so in 2020.

The embassy move is likely to be opposed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which demand the eastern sector of Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. The PA not only vigorously condemns any embassy openings in Jerusalem, but also denounced the opening of a diplomatic office in the city by the Czech Republic.

Israel deems the whole of Jerusalem as its eternal capital and the center of the Jewish faith, and annexed the eastern side –  where the ancient city of David and the Temple Mount are located – immediately after the land was liberated from Jordan after the 1967 Six Day War. The Temple Mount is considered by the Jewish People as the holiest site in the world, also revered to Christians.

Muslims, who built the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque atop the ruins of the  biblical temples refer to the contested area as Haram al Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, regarded as Islam’s third holiest place.

Israelis marked the 55th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification this past Sunday, marred by clashes with Muslim extremists.

According to the MFA statement, Ministers and Ramdin also signed an agreement to maintain political ties between their respective foreign ministries.

Foreign Minister Lapid additionally offered humanitarian aid from the Jewish State offering shelter to Surinamese left homeless in the wake of severe flooding in the northern part of the country about a month.