Japan’s FM said to invite Netanyahu, Abbas, Kushner to Tokyo peace summit
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Japan’s FM said to invite Netanyahu, Abbas, Kushner to Tokyo peace summit

PM said to express openness to initiative, but only if US envoy also attends meeting

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Jerusalem on December 25, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Jerusalem on December 25, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Japan’s foreign minister reportedly invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to a four-way peace summit in Tokyo that would also include Jared Kushner, who is overseeing US President Donald Trump’s efforts to revive peace talks.

According to a report by the Walla news website, Taro Kono extended the invitation to Netanyahu and Abbas during his separate meetings on Monday with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

According to Channel 10, Netanyahu said he was open to attending, but only if the US agreed.

“If Kushner is there, I will also be there,” the report quoted Netanyahu as telling Kono.

The TV channel said the proposal was first made to Netanyahu by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when the two met in New York during the UN General Assembly in September.

It said Netanyahu told Abe he would only attend if the summit was coordinated with the US, which has traditionally been the arbitrator of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The reports did not say how Abbas responded to Kono’s proposal.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (L) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

The reported Japanese proposal came as ties between the US and the Palestinian Authority have hit a nadir following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6.

In protest of the move, Abbas declared that the Palestinians no longer view the US as an honest mediator for peace talks.

An adviser to Abbas also said the PA would no longer meet with US officials regarding peace efforts, including Kushner and peace envoy Jason Greenblatt.

Despite international criticism of Trump’s declaration, the move has been widely praised by Israeli politicians.

While meeting with Kono on Monday, President Reuven Rivlin compared Israel’s capital to Japan’s Tokyo.

“For us, Tokyo is absolutely the only capital of Japan, and Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel,” the president said.

While Kono did not publicly criticize the US recognition in his meetings with Rivlin and Netanyahu, Japan last week voted in favor of a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution condemning the American move.

Although Japan has never played an influential role in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Monday’s reports said the proposal was meant to mark 10 years since the founding of the Jericho agro-industrial park, which was set up by Japan as part of the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity Initiative aimed at promoting economic cooperation between Israel, the Palestinians, and Jordan.

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