Japan announced on Saturday that it was pledging more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority. The pledge was announced by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the second Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development.
The conference, held in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, was a gathering of high-ranking officials from 22 nations and five international organizations, reiterating their support for Palestinian statehood. The conference was jointly chaired by Japan, Indonesia, and the Palestinian Authority.
Officials at the conference agreed to expand their involvement in Palestinian affairs as well as encourage greater engagement of civil society between East Asian countries and the Palestinians.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed his belief that there should be “universal recognition of Palestine as an independent and sovereign state and as a full member of state of the United Nations.”
“We can make this happen if we redouble our effort to support them in nation and state building,” Yudhoyono said.
In a joint statement issued at the end of the conference, participants in the conference had raised $210 million for the Palestinian’s since the conclusion of last year’s conference in Tokyo.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told attendees at the conference that despite the failing efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, “We still believe that the two-state vision can be envisaged and realized.” He went on to commend the efforts of Kerry.
Hamdallah criticized Israel and its continued approval of construction of settlements. He stated that Israeli settlements were “severely” hindering peace negotiations.
“Sixty-two percent of all our land is still controlled by the Israeli authorities. This impedes any access we have to natural resources, and severely restricts our development,” Hamdallah said.
Hamdallah’s sentiments regarding peace seem to contradict the stance of the Palestinian Authority, which has refused time and again to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinian’s have made it clear that a two state solution is out of the question.
Last week, PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that the Palestinian Authority has rejected peace negotiations with Israel beyond the April deadline.
Erekat told AFP that “There is no meaning to prolonging the negotiation, even for one more additional hour…”
The first installment of the Palestinian aid – about $62 million – will be distributed later this month.