By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – Expressing concern over recent unilateral measures in Palestinian territory, Japan on Friday sought cooperation from Israel in reaching a two-state solution.
“Japan is concerned about recent unilateral measures resulting in the escalation of tensions,” Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa told his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in a phone conversation today.
Yoshimasa explained Tokyo’s approach of assisting Palestinians “in order to achieve a two-state solution.”
Yoshimasa “asked for the cooperation of Israel,” said a statement from Japan’s Foreign Ministry.
Cohen, the statement added, “stated that Israel respects the status quo with regard to holy sites.”
The two sides also discussed situations in Ukraine and East Asia, with Yoshimasa saying Tokyo “would like to strengthen cooperation with Israel” while touching upon “the importance of maintaining and strengthening the free and open international order based on the rule of law.”
As Israel moves to expand illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories, the Israeli army early this week demolished 18 Palestinian-owned structures north of the occupied East Jerusalem, affecting more than 100 Palestinian families.
Early this month, far-right Minister of National Security Ben-Gvir’s visit to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem triggered a storm of condemnations from countries across the world, including Jordan, Türkiye, the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Pakistan.
Palestinians accuse Israel of systematically working to Judaize East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, and to obliterate its Arab and Islamic identity.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third-holiest site. Jews, for their part, call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements in occupied territories are considered illegal.