Palau: Israel's best friend at the UN

If you thought that Micronesia was Israel's best friend at the United Nations - guess again. The country that most consistently votes with and for Israel is Palau. That news comes straight from the horse's mouth, from Palau's ambassador to the UN - and also to Israel - Stuart Beck, who this week is accompanying President Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr. on a private visit to Israel. Remengesau, who is both the head of state and head of government, visited with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and with President Moshe Katsav on Wednesday. "There are two Jewish ambassadors to the United Nations," he quipped as he entered Katsav's office, "yours and ours." Palau has only been a member state of the United Nations since December 1994. After three decades as part of the UN Trust Territory in the Pacific under US administration, it declined to be linked to the Federated States of Micronesia. In 1978 it chose to be independent, but the decision only came into effect in 1994. The western-most cluster of the Caroline Islands (near Australia), Palau has a population slightly in excess of 20,000 and an economy based on tourism, subsistence agriculture and fishing. It is a favorite destination for serious scuba divers. Its main exports are shellfish, tuna, copra, juices, garments and craft items. "We have our fair share of challenges. Ours is a question of sustainability," said Remengesau, who visited Japan to seek aid for road construction before embarking on his first visit to Israel. Asked by The Jerusalem Post why he was visiting Israel, Remengesau said, "We're the best of friends and we're here to reiterate that friendship." He said Palau has the best record of voting with Israel at the UN. Even better than Micronesia? Here Beck chimed in to reiterate that Palau had the best and most consistent record of any country in voting for Israel. Members of Remengesau's delegation, which included Palau's ambassador to the US, Hersey Kyota, and the floor leader of its senate, Alan R. Seid, told Katsav that because Palau has been trying to get Micronesia, the Solomon Islands, Nauru and other Pacific island states to join a pro-Israel coalition, those states have been dubbed the "Great Powers of the Pacific in Support of Israel." Remengesau toured the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday before continuing to Tiberias and holy sites in the Galilee.