Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, spoke here Monday of their shared commitment to peace and regional security, yet diverged in the hot-button issues they chose to flag as obstacles to realizing common goals.
Netanyahu underscored the Iranian nuclear threat as the most daunting challenge and warned against making the same diplomatic mistakes that permitted North Korea to obtain nuclear weapons.
Abe opted to highlight the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, respectfully exhorting his host against further construction in disputed areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In a commentary published Monday in Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s largest Hebrew daily, the Japanese leader acknowledged the importance of nuclear nonproliferation in a region that provides a large portion of the world’s energy needs.
Nevertheless, in his essay titled “Advice From a True Friend,” Abe flagged his more immediate concern about the collapse of talks between Israel and the Palestine Authority (PA).
“Since the halt in direct negotiations last year there was another round of combat in Gaza and riots in the West Bank and Jerusalem that have adversely influenced the peace process in the Middle East and brought us to the current situation. I’m concerned about this,” Abe wrote.
He noted that Japan has invested extensively in economic assistance to the Palestinians over many years, and continues to invest in confidence-building efforts aimed at encouraging the resumption of “serious” peace talks.