Japan offers mediation for the peace process: Al-Hayat
By: Nawal Sayed
Fri, Dec. 29, 2017
CAIRO – 29 December 2017: “Japan is seeking to play the role of mediator in the peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis instead of the United States, as Palestinians refused to allow Washington to play that role after President Donald Trump's announcement of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transferring the embassy of his country there,” Palestinian sources and western diplomatic sources revealed to Pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper on Thursday.
The sources said that Japan has prepared a long-term plan to revive the peace process through vital economic projects that serve both sides, such as joint industrial, agricultural and tourist zones that lead to create mutual interests. In order to maintain these interests, political solutions for the conflict should be reached.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kōno visited Palestinian territories and Israel early this week in an endeavor to contain the situation after Palestinians announced their refusal to deal with the U.S. Administration as a mediator in the political process. He met with President Mahmoud Abbas and with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and offered them the idea of Japan's funding of the economic projects that aim at "rebuilding confidence" between both sides.
Diplomatic sources told Al-Hayat that Japan considers itself the most capable country of playing the role of mediator between the two sides due to its special relations with each of them. The sources pointed out the good relations Tokyo has with both Tel Aviv and Ramallah.
They added, "The Israeli side shows sensitivity towards the role of some big countries in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, such as Russia and China whom the Israeli side considers closer to the Palestinian stance. However, the Israeli side does not show the same sensitivity towards Japan.”
"It is obvious that the Palestinian side will not accept Trump's Administration as mediator in the political process. Therefore, the vacuum should be filled and the situation should be contained in order to keep the political process alive,” the sources added.
Japan is funding a series of economic projects that aim at serving the peace process, such as "the Jericho Corridor for Peace" which aims at encouraging tourism to Palestine, Israel and Jordan. These projects also include the industrial zone in Jericho.
"The only possible solution for the conflict is political. The political process will take a lot of time and its success requires a lot of patience and action. Economy represents a significant key to rapprochement between both parties until they reach an agreement on a historical solution,” the sources stressed.
Palestinian officials denied that Japan might have invited Netanyahu and Abbas to a summit meeting in Tokyo. They said that he Japanese foreign minister suggested to both men reviving the political process through economic means.
Diplomatic sources said the Israeli side had leaked news that Japan offered hosting a summit meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu in Tokyo to achieve political goals in its conflict with the Palestinian side.
Israeli news also said that Netanyahu expressed his willingness to take part in such a meeting only if it was under U.S. auspices. The sources said, "Israel wants to say it insists on U.S. sponsorship of the peace process because of Washington's full bias to Israel. But at the same time, the way is open for Japan to play a political role through economy.”
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kōno paid a visit to Palestine as the first visit of its kind by a foreign senior official to the Middle East in general and to Jerusalem in particular since American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city in early December.
Kōno visited Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Oman and Turkey from December 24 to 29. This six-day trip to the Middle East was the third visit of the Japanese foreign minister since he took up office in August.
His visit follows U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement on December 6, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital city and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.