Suriname to open Jerusalem embassy, pushes to improve ties with Israel

Surinamese Foreign Minister Albert Ramdin is making the first visit to Israel of any top official from his country since it established diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in 1976.

 Surinamese Foreign Minister Albert Ramdin and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid are seen shaking hands in Jerusalem, on May 30, 2022. (photo credit: JORGE NOVOMINSKY/FOREIGN MINISTRY)
Surinamese Foreign Minister Albert Ramdin and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid are seen shaking hands in Jerusalem, on May 30, 2022.
(photo credit: JORGE NOVOMINSKY/FOREIGN MINISTRY)

Suriname plans to open an embassy in Jerusalem, making it one of a small number of countries that are willing to push back against international objections to such a stand.

"Today, during our meeting in Jerusalem, Surinamese Foreign Minister Albert Ramdin informed me that his country plans to soon open an embassy in Jerusalem," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted on Monday after the two men met.

Ramdin is making the first visit to Israel of any top official from his country since it established diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in 1976.

To date, only four countries have opened embassies in Jerusalem: the United States, Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo. Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Malawi and Equatorial Guinea have spoken of doing so. 

The bulk of the international community has refused to recognize that any part of Jerusalem falls within Israel's border. 

THE JERUSALEM skyline as viewed from the Mount of Olives. (credit: DAN/FLICKR)THE JERUSALEM skyline as viewed from the Mount of Olives. (credit: DAN/FLICKR)

A smaller number of countries agree that western Jerusalem is part of Israel while they hold that the eastern part of the city should be part of the future borders of a Palestinian state.

Most countries believe that the status of Jerusalem, in general, should be determined through a two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and as a result, most of the embassies in Israel are located in Tel Aviv. 

Suriname does not currently have an embassy in Israel and so opening such an office would be a first for the Latin American country that was once a Dutch colony.

Despite its Latin American location, Suriname is considered to be part of the Caribbean and this visit is seen as part of Israel's endeavors to expand its relationship with the Caribbean.

Israel does not have an embassy in Suriname but services it out of its embassy in Panama.

The small Dutch-speaking country has a population of some 600,000 people, a majority of whom are Christians and a minority who are Muslims, and as such is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. 

Suriname's interests in Israel

Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Yoni Peled, who heads the Latin American and Caribbean desk, said that Suriname"is interested in improving relations with Israel." They are particularly interested in its technology with respect to agriculture and water.

Israel plans to send Suriname humanitarian assistance to help victims of the recent flooding in its country.

Suriname has newly discovered oil and natural gas reserves, which offer new investment opportunities for Israelis.

"Israel will have better access to the Caribbean states and Suriname will have the opportunity to access Israeli technology, know-how and investment."

Foreign Ministry Director-General Yoni Peled

This visit marks "a milestone in our relationship with Suriname which will benefit both countries. Israel will have better access to the Caribbean states and Suriname will have the opportunity to access Israeli technology, know-how and investment," Peled said.