The Palestinian Authority confirmed Sunday that Japan will increase funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, which provides aid to over four million Palestinian refugees living in Occupied Palestinian Territory (West Bank and Gaza), Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
International relations advisor Nabil Shaath also confirmed that Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is collecting signatures of Japanese legislators to demand the government recognize Palestinian statehood.
These announcements come amid heightened tension following last December’s declarations by U.S. President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and vowing to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city of Jerusalem.
The move was widely condemned by the international community, which overwhelmingly voted in the United Nations General Assembly to reject the U.S. declaration in spite of threats by Trump and his representative in the U.N., Nikki Haley, promising to cut aid to countries that voted against Washington.
United States' unilateral actions generated many calls to secure an “impartial” mediator to resume peace talks between Israel and Palestine. According to Shaath, “Japan supports the formation of a new international framework for managing the peace process, breaking free from U.S. monopoly.”
As a response to Palestinian frustration over Trump’s Jerusalem declarations, the U.S. government announced a massive cut to UNRWA. Japan has pledged to increase its funding and Gaza officials have confirmed Japan will fund the construction of a wastewater treatment plant that will provide water for agriculture. Gaza is undergoing the worst water and electricity crisis in its 70 years of occupation.
Belgium has also increased the resources it gives to the UNRWA, pledging US$25 million over the next three years.
Since the U.S. Department of State announced it was cutting US$65 million of the US$125 million aid package it gives to UNRWA, the U.N. agency launched a global fundraising campaign to “protect the rights and dignity of Palestine refugees.”