In Tokyo, support for Palestine’s plight

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Photo by: ECHO / CC BY-SA

They may not have garnered new million-dollar aid pledges, but members of the Palestinian Authority left Tokyo Thursday with fresh political backing and promises of technical assistance by Asian leaders.

At the first meeting of the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development Cooperation, a host of donors committed to supporting Palestine’s state-building efforts. Participants pledged to “to share the knowledge and experience of East Asian countries in economic development and regional integration, to help guide the state-building effort of Palestine.”

In a joint statement, participants of the two-day event also “strongly” called for the “early resumption of direct negotiations, and for refraining from any acts which might negatively affect or hinder the direct negotiations” for a two-state solution with Israel.

To boost investment and trade, conference attendees said they would consider holding a similar gathering with business leaders in the near future, and cooperating with Japan in the implementing of its “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity,” which promotes industrial development in Jericho and the Jordan Valley area.

Officials praised trilateral cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Japan as well as Indonesia and, separately, Malaysia, in agriculture, small and medium-size enterprises, finance and other areas.

Attendees included representatives of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam, as well as the League of Arab States, Islamic Development Bank, World Bank, and U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

The United Nations has appealed for $300 million in aid for about 2 million Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

During the conference in Tokyo, Filippo Grandi, the UNRWA commissioner general, said his agency is constrained to run its schools, clinics and other activities for this year.

“We carry a $68 million deficit on our $660 million core program for 2013,” Grandi said.

Humanitarian needs in Palestine remain grave, conference participants agreed, vowing to “explore the possibility of further cooperation” by, for instance, involving aid agency leaders in regular consultations.

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    John Alliage Morales

    As a staff writer, John Alliage Morales covers the Americas, focusing on the world's top donor hub, Washington, and its aid community - from Capitol Hill to Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom to the downtown headquarters of USAID, the World Bank and Millennium Challenge Corp. Prior to joining Devex, Alliage worked for a variety of news outlets including GMA, the Philippine TV network, where he conducted interviews, analyzed data and produced in-depth stories on development and other topics.