Request letter to MoFA regarding the US President’s announcement on Jerusalem

[Original (December 26, 2017); Translated by J. Hills/S. Igawa]

Written request to the Japanese Government – “A request for the Japanese Government to express a position of opposition in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

US President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has not only caused outrage amongst the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation but has also caused a huge backlash throughout the international community. The Japanese government voted in support of condemning the United States’ announcement at the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly. However, by refraining from speaking out at the United Nations General Assembly, the response of the Japanese government can only be seen as one that is backward-looking. It especially pales in comparison to the bold statements made by the UK, France, and Germany, which branded the United States’ action to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem as a violation of international law. We at JVC are strongly opposed to the Israeli occupation and, as a civil society group that has continued to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, we have submitted the following request to the Japanese government.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono

<Written Request>

A request for the Japanese Government to express a position of opposition in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

Following US President Donald Trump’s announcement on the 6th of December recognizing the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, waves of shock and anger have been felt across the world, not only in Palestine and Islamic countries, but by the wider international community as well. As a civil society group that has continued to engage in grassroots aid projects in Palestine for over 25 years, we at the Japan International Volunteer Center are faced with a strong sense of indignation toward the president’s announcement.

Jerusalem is a city of immense religious importance and significance to not only those who follow Judaism, but also to those who follow the Christian and Islamic faiths. Under international law, East Jerusalem makes up part of Palestine’s territory. However, the United States’ recent statement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel only serves to accept Israel’s annexation of the area. It is the shared understanding of the international community that the question pertaining to sovereignty over Jerusalem should be settled through negotiations, and Israel has no authority to claim independent ownership.

Violations of the human rights of Palestinians in East Jerusalem at the hands of Israel are never-ending. Such violations include: land grabbing, house raiding and intrusion, restrictions on movement, detention and arrest, as well as day-to-day harassment. There is no limit to the human rights violations that Palestinians face on a daily basis. Demonstrations that have broken out in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement are not at all sudden or unexpected. They are the result of Palestinians being subject to continuous violence of this kind, to the point where their endurance and patience have reached their limits. Palestinian protests are not only still ongoing; 4 Palestinians have already died at the hands of Israeli soldiers and further violence is expected to follow.

Furthermore, Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip is continuing to trap people into an inhumane way of existence. An extreme shortage of electrical power has perpetuated the following problems affecting the lives of people living in the Strip: hospitals’ inability to function; sewage waste flowing into the ocean and a consequent rise in contagious diseases; an insufficient supply of drinking water (due to the inability to run desalination equipment). Without any progress being made towards opening the national borders, we are left with a situation that cannot be overlooked from a humanitarian perspective. And now, following the announcement from the United States, Palestinian demonstrations and Israeli attacks carried out in retaliation have been nonstop. This announcement, that has further plunged the already exhausted people living in the Gaza Strip into a deeper state of chaos and deprivation, has only served to make it even harder for them to believe in the hope of a secure future.

To this effect, the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel is an action that only serves to consolidate a situation where Palestinians living in the area will continue to see their dignities disregarded. It also represents an obstacle that has effectively shut down the road leading towards Israeli–Palestinian peace.

The Japanese government has thus far continued to provide support to the Palestinian people, including Palestinian refugees. With this in mind, we sincerely request that the government take a strong stance of opposition to this announcement, which by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, has had a devastating effect on stability in both the Middle East and the wider world.

22nd of December 2017

Specified Nonprofit Corporation Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC)

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