Diplomatic Bluebook 2017
Japan's Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map
5.Middle East Peace Process
(1) Developments in Middle East Peace Process
The U.S. mediation led to direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine from July 2013 to April 2014. However, they faltered in the face of a wide gap in the positions of the two sides, and there have been no signs of resumption since then.
The security situation has been worsening in Israel and at the West Bank since around mid-2015 with frequent collisions between Israelis and Palestinians. While the situation appeared to subside from the beginning of 2016, the mutual distrust is strong and there is no sense of moving towards peace. In addition, Israel continues its settlement policy and the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has been deteriorating as well.
The international community has continued to urge both Israel and Palestine to resume the negotiations at an early date to improve such situation. In particular, France called for an international conference in an attempt to break through the status quo. To discuss all sorts of means to resume negotiations and reaffirm the two-state solution, a ministerial-level meeting was held in June for major countries other than Israel and Palestine and attended by Japanese Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace.
On December 23, the UN Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2334 demanding that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities, with 14 countries, including Japan, voting for the resolution and the one country (the U.S.) abstaining.
This was followed by a speech that included a plan for the basis of future peace negotiations given by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry on December 28. In addition, France convened a Conference for Middle East Peace in Paris on January 15, 2017, attended by Japan's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sonoura.
(2) The Japanese Government's Efforts
In cooperation with the international community, Japan has 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 is also making an effort to contribute to confidence-building between Israel and Palestine by inviting relevant people from both sides to Japan.
In January 2015, Prime Minister Abe met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel and President Abbas in Palestine, directly urging both leaders to advance the process for a solution to the Middle East issue. President Abbas visited Japan in February 2016, and the Japan side encouraged him to take a flexible approach and resume the negotiations at an early date.
Japan's support for Palestine since 1993 amounts to 1.7 billion US dollars, covering humanitarian support, job creation, healthcare, agriculture, and a variety of fields. The “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative is Japan's unique effort to address Palestine's economic self-sustainability specifically in cooperation with Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. Palestinian private-sector companies have started operations at the currently being developed Jericho Agro-Industrial Park, a flagship project of this initiative, and it is expected that more companies will participate and create new employment opportunities. A ministerial meeting of the four parties in this initiative (Japan, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan) was convened in September, chaired by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sonoura. Participants agreed that they would cooperate to develop the initiative.
The Government of Japan engages in tripartite cooperation with Asian nations under the framework of the “Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD)” aiming to mobilize Asian countries for practical assistance to Palestine.