Nauru, the tiny island republic of the Central Pacific Ocean, was at the focus of Israeli mainstream media. The reason was that this small country recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, confirming its steadfast pro-Israeli attitude in all UN votes since it gained its independence in 1968.
by Gabriel Haritos PhD , Researcher, The Ben Gurion Reserach Institute, Ben Gurion University of the Negev and Senior Fellow, Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs
In essence, this is the promise made by then-Nauru President Baron Wakka when he visited Israel in June 2017 for the first and last time, as he died a few months later. Nauru is represented diplomatically in Israel by an Honorary Consul and not by a career diplomat. Immediately after the Vatican, it is the second smallest state in the world in terms of population (just 13,000 inhabitants).
Its pro-Israel stance stems from the country’s strong relations with the US, Australia, and New Zealand and its votes in the UN are essentially “gifts” to Israel mainly coming from these small ‘western’ protectorate Pacific island states. In the same way the traditional pro-Israeli vote of Micronesia can be explained.
Another reason these small countries maintain a steadfast pro-Israeli attitude is that the local population believes in the Christian evangelical movements, which express a peculiar Christian Zionism. A zeal for Jerusalem among the movements of Christian Evangelists is an essential element of both their theological view and the typical Sunday divine service in local churches. Christianity – and its manifestation – is something new to the peoples of the Pacific Ocean and is an important element of citizens’ sense of ‘belonging’ to a ‘new’ people and state. Therefore, Jerusalem and its Jewishness, through the Evangelical Christian movements and churches, is in its own way a symbol and a cause for national unity and national awareness of these new distant peoples and states.
These details, of course, are of little interest to the current election campaign. What Likud and Netanyahu are interested in is ensuring that as many countries as possible have an official presence in Jerusalem.
Until now, the US and Guatemala maintain their embassies there. Next week, the President of Honduras is expected to announce the opening of a Bureau of Economic Cooperation in Jerusalem, declaring that the city is the capital of Israel. The same model seems to be adopted by Ukraine, while the Czech Republic has already opened a cultural center there.
The Israeli side seems pleased with any official foreign state presence in Jerusalem – even if that does not mean an embassy opening. Specifically at this time, there is no doubt that when Jerusalem’s diplomatic status is upgraded (even if recognized by the far-away tiny Nauru), the more points Netanyahu gains in the pre-election period – as the opposition ihas nothing to say for his management of the country’s foreign policy.