Japan to recognise State of Palestine and increase UNRWA funding after US cuts

Palestinian authorities confirmed on Sunday that Japan is in the process of recognising the State of Palestine and will increase funding to UNRWA, the UN body charged with supporting Palestinian refugees, in a boost to Palestinian statehood amid a turbulent period of violence, aid cuts and diplomatic crisis following Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.

Nabil Shaath, international relations adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, announced on Sunday that Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is in the process of collecting signatures of Japanese parliamentarians to demand the government to recognise Palestine, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Shaath told the radio station Voice of Palestine that Japan will recognise Palestine in a gradual process, and is expected to increase the level of Palestinian diplomatic representation in the country from delegation to a representative office.

“Japan supports the formation of a new international framework for managing the peace process, breaking free from US monopoly over it,” Shaath said.

 Japan supports the formation of a new international framework for managing the peace process, breaking free from US monopoly over it

He added that Japan is committed to political and economic support of Palestine and has pledged to finance water projects in the Gaza Strip and increasing its financial contribution to UNRWA, in the wake of US funding cuts to the agency.

It was also announced that Japan had donated 3.9 million shekels (approximately $1.1m) to the reconstruction of Rafah stadium in southern Gaza, which was destroyed in the war with Israel.

Gaza officials added that Japan will fund the construction of a wastewater treatment plant, worth 5.46 million shekels (approximately $1.6m), that will provide clean water for agricultural purposes.

Japan has previously supported a two-state solution, and is openly committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state, however its latest diplomatic gestures provide concrete hope of such a future.

Japan’s move comes weeks after the government of Belgium pledged €19 million ($25 million) to UNRWA over the next three years, in response to the organisation’s call for donations following Trump’s dramatic funding cuts.

“I have a lot of respect for UNRWA’s work, which has to operate in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Living conditions in Gaza, Syria, the West bank and elsewhere in the region are particularly tough,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo said.

“For a lot of Palestinian refugees the UNRWA is the last life buoy. With the help of UNRWA half a million of Palestine children are able to go to school. This prevents them from falling prey to radicalisation and extreme violence.”

Croo’s statement also delivered a resilient message in the face of Donald Trump’s funding freeze, emphasising that Belgium, together with its fellow European countries and the EU Commission, was “by far” UNRWA’s biggest donor.

Mahmoud Abbas visited Brussels in January to urge the EU to recognise the Palestinian state. Currently, only one member country – Sweden – does so.

Source: The New Arab

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