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Editorial: Prevent issues in Middle East from worsening

The Trump administration has recognized Jerusalem as the “capital” of Israel and has relocated the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv.


In response to the relocation, demonstrators have clashed with the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip, part of the Palestinian territories, resulting in many casualties.


Relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem was one of President Donald Trump’s campaign pledges. With the Middle East peace process at a deadlock, the argument that a “new approach” is necessary is understandable.


The problem is that the Trump administration has not specified what that approach will be. The U.S. administration has complicated the situation by focusing on hastily implementing the campaign pledge despite the fact that it does not yet have a vision for the future. We hope the U.S. will take diplomatic measures to settle the issue.


The relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem was decided by U.S. law, but successive U.S. presidents have postponed its enforcement. As President Trump pointed out, the postponement did not lead to progress in Middle East peace negotiations.


However, the international community, which hopes that the question of the status of Jerusalem will be decided through discussions between Israel and Palestine, does not recognize the city as the capital of Israel. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refuses U.S. mediation of the Middle East peace process.


The relocation casually implemented by the U.S. is similar to the withdrawal of the U.S from the Iran nuclear deal. Washington has not specified how the U.S. will prevent Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.


Looking at the Middle East overall, although the Islamic State (IS) has been eliminated, the civil war in Syria has turned into a quagmire, while a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is unfolding in Yemen.


Israel welcomes the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, and Israel’s relations with Iran are deteriorating. Armed conflict between the two countries in Syria has also been reported. There are concerns that the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem may cause a chain reaction, aggravating the situation in the Middle East. 


The U.S. and the entire international community are about to tackle the critical challenge of denuclearizing North Korea, and due consideration should be given to ways to stabilize the political situation in the Middle East. Although the U.S. has made the situation complicated, the international community should increase its efforts to address it.


During his latest visit to Israel and Palestine, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conveyed his message to President Abbas that Japan does not follow suit with the U.S. regarding the issue of the U.S. embassy relocation. Abe also stressed that the role of the U.S. is essential to realizing peace in the Middle East.


Japan maintains good relations with Israel, Palestine, and Iran, and Prime Minister Abe and President Trump share a relationship of deep trust. Urging the U.S. to concentrate on the North Korea issue is the key to Japan’s diplomatic role in the Middle East.

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