Diplomatic Bluebook 2015
Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map
5.Middle East Peace Process
(1) Development in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process
US mediation led to the reopening of direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine in July 2013, for the first time in three years. During the nine-month negotiation, all issues were put on the table, including border, Jerusalem, refugees, and security. However, in face of a huge gap in positions between Israel and Palestine, they failed to fill it.
At the end of March 2014, Israel did not carry out the planned release of Palestinian prisoners while continuing construction of settlements. In response, Palestine applied to join fifteen international treaties, and agreed with Hamas, which controlled the Gaza Strip to establish a new unity government. Israel reacted furiously, and the negotiation collapsed.
(2) Situation in the Gaza Strip
In June, while the negotiation was in the doldrums, kidnappings and murders of Israelis and Palestinians occurred in the West Bank, and the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on the Israeli territory increased. In response to the rocket attacks, Israel started military operations in the Gaza Strip on July 8. Japanese Prime Minister Abe requested Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the telephone conversation to restrain from escalating the situation. The Japanese government sent State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi to the Middle East region to persuade the parties to bring the situation under control. The confrontation in Gaza caused casualties of more than 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis until a cease-fire was achieved on August 26 by the mediation of Egypt.
In October, the Conference on the reconstruction of Gaza was held in Cairo, which confirmed the necessity to strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s ability to assume its responsibility for reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and to provide the Palestinian Authority with further support to achieve economic and social stability in the entire Palestinian territory. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasuhide Nakayama attended the conference and expressed Japan’s basic position and contribution to the reconstruction of Gaza.
(3) The Japanese Government’s Efforts
In cooperation with the international community, Japan approached Israel and Palestine to achieve a “two-state solution.” Political dialogues were conducted at all levels involving the prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, and special envoy of the government of Japan for the Middle East peace. Japan also endeavoured to contribute to confidence-building between Israel and Palestine by inviting relevant people from both sides to Japan. A summit meeting between Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was held in May when Mr. Netanyahu visited Japan. In January 2015, Prime Minister Abe visited Israel and Palestine, and had separate meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and with Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, president of Palestine. On these occasions, Prime Minister Abe directly encouraged them to work towards the peace process.
Japan’s support for Palestine since 1993 amounts to 1.5 billion US dollars. The “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative is Japan’s unique effort to specifically address Palestine’s economic self-sustainability. A flagship project of this initiative is Jericho Agro-industrial Park, for which the Japanese government accelerates its effort to put the project into full operation.
The Japanese government also initiated “Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development” (CEAPAD),3 aiming to mobilize the knowledge and resources of Asian countries for effective assistance to Palestine. The second ministerial conference was held in March in Indonesia, in which Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida announced additional assistance of 200 million US dollars.
- 3 CEAPAD is a consultative framework for East Asian countries to promote effective assistance for Palestine’s state-building by mobilizing their own knowledge and resources for economic development. The ultimate goal of the framework is to realize a “two-state solution.” Under the Japanese government’s initiative, the first conference was held in Tokyo in February 2013 and the second conference was held in Jakarta in March 2014.