Japan is funding the creation of a $100 million 111.5 hectare agricultural-cum-industrial park near the ancient Palestinian city of Jericho. About $5 million of this amount is to go towards a solar power array to provide power for the park. This week, JICA announced that the first section of the park will be complete in 2012.
The agro-industrial park is intended to help in eventually making peace possible, by engendering the creation of an equal Palestinian state, with its own parallel pipeline for creating wealth through the development of an export industry, one that is not dependent on Israeli consumers.
“The presence of Israeli checkpoints and other restrictions have always affected the Palestinian economy and we are working on removing all these restraints,” Hideki Matsunaga, director of Middle East Division at the Middle East and Europe Department at JICA told Jordan Times.
“Currently, Palestinian businesses and industries in the West Bank suffer from Israeli checkpoints, restrictions, shortage of power and water, but through the project we seek to help them grow” he said.
Japan might seem like an odd nation to be getting involved in what amounts to a kind of nation-building in the Middle East. But it is also helping Egypt and Yemen with water issues. Green Prophet has previously covered JICA’s Middle East work on water studies for Yemen: Waterless by 2017?
And Japan does have experience in building an exporting nation from the ground up, from literally the ashes of destruction in the Second World War. Before the war, Japan was an agricultural society that had virtually no export economy. During the war, it was destroyed. Today it is one of the world’s major powers.
Image via CORBIS