Jerusalem: Japan newspaper calls Trump’s move ‘short-sighted’ and ‘dangerous’

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Although hardliners in the US and Israel, one of its closest allies in West Asia, celebrated the recent shifting of the US embassy to Jerusalem which US President Donald Trump also acknowledged as the capital of the Jewish state last December, not all are sure about this controversial step.

US President Donald Trump

Voices in Japan, another of the US's close ally, are concerned. In a recent editorial published in the Japan Times, it was said giving shape to Trump's long-promises move would make peace harder to achieve and "embolden hardliners on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide", contrary to what Trump believed.

"Of all the issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians, none cuts as deep as the status of Jerusalem. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim it as their capital. Since its final disposition will be an essential component of a peace agreement, virtually every other government has located its embassy in Tel Aviv," the editorial said.

"In 1995, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution stating that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel," and U.S. presidents have for many years pledged to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Once in office, however, all hesitated after recognizing the problems such a move would create."

While some rejoiced Trump's "bold" move, the Gaza border saw ruthless butchering of Palestinian protesters who had been holding a month-and-half-long protest since March 30 culminating on May 15, called the 'Nakba' (catastrophe) Day which is observed a day after Israel's independence received on May 14, 1948.

At least 60 people, including an infant, were killed while almost 2,700 people were injured as the Israeli forces made armed retaliation against the Palestinian protesters. According to the UN's estimate, over 110 lives have been lost in the violence in the past one-and-half-months, the editorial mentioned.

The editorial also expressed disbelief over the words of US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley who did not agree that shifting of the embassy was related to violence and countered that the decision reflected the "reality" and acknowledging it "made real peace more achievable".

"The U.S. move was generally recognized as an invaluable concession to Israel, one that would be withheld until leverage was needed to nudge that government toward a difficult decision on a final settlement. To do it now deprives the U.S. of that influence," the piece said, adding that there was also no evidence that the Trump administration was ready with a plan to advance the crucial peace process despite the president pledging to "give it a shot" during his campaign for the 2016 presidential election.

'Those asked to deal with the problem have little grip on it'

It said the individuals that Trump assigned the task to handle the peace process, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, had no experience of dealing with a complicated negotiation process like that between Israel and Palestine.

"It should come as no surprise, then, that the Palestinians believe that Washington has forfeited its position as a neutral arbiter, one that could facilitate a solution that they could accept. Their situation is growing increasingly desperate - more than two-thirds of the nearly 2 million people in Gaza are younger than 25, are descendants of refugees and face an unemployment rate of 44 percent - and protests are the only option," it said.

The editorial also said that the Trump administration was trying to project that other regional backers of the Palestinians were busy with other issues, especially Iran. The growing divide between Iran and other big powers in the region like Saudi Arabia and others has also dented the Arab unity and making it easier for the Israeli hawks.

Japan not to follow Trump

The Japan Times editorial also made a reference to Tokyo, which although is a far-off player from the Israel-Palestine conflict, but yet has a role. It said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who held a summit with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a few weeks ago, acknowledged that Japan would not ape the US by moving its embassy too to Jerusalem. He also urged Abbas to make negotiations with the Israelis.

Japan grants aid to Palestine

Highlighting Japan's role in the region, the Japan Times editorial said Tokyo has given $1.86 billion as aid to the Palestinians, is ready to give another $10 million and even more if required. It said Japan was in favour of a moral support to the Palestinians and international law universally.

"There is little chance that Japan's position will sway the U.S. president, but that is no reason for us to back a policy that is short-sighted and dangerous," it concluded.

Recently, a meeting between Abe and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem generated negative vibes after the former was treated with a dessert served in a metal shoes, leaving the Japanese side offended. A livid Japanese diplomat called it to be a "diplomatic mockery" while a senior Israeli diplomat who had served in Japan in the past even called it "dumb and insensitive decision".

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