Palestine hopes to showcase the resilience of its people at the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka, although challenges posed by the Israel-Hamas war could jeopardize its participation in the event, according to its representative to Japan.

"We, the people that are being killed and our lives being taken away from us, are coming to show the world we love life," Waleed Siam, representative of the Permanent General Mission of Palestine in Japan, told Kyodo News in a recent interview.

Waleed Siam, Representative of the Permanent General Mission of Palestine in Japan, speaks during an interview in Tokyo on Nov. 28, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

But at the same time, Siam acknowledged that the conflict between Israel and Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip since early October has stalled preparations, such as by hindering the movement of exhibition designers and slowing communication.

"We have to wait and see what happens and then decide if we're going to design (a pavilion) or we're going to come to Expo 2025 or not," he said, adding it depends on political factors, the situation back home and budget constraints.

"So there are many questions right now that we are facing for the Expo 2025," he said.

If Palestine takes part, Siam said he wants to exhibit its technology, culture and food in a "way to show that the Palestinians are not just occupied and in tents."

In the previous World Expo held in Dubai from October 2021 to March 2022, Palestine built one of its largest pavilions that offered visitors virtual reality tours of key sights in Jerusalem, while specially designed urns released the scent of Palestine-grown fruits.

Siam said he wants to deliver a message at the next expo about the strength of the Palestinian people by drawing a parallel between their endurance in the face of occupation and adversity to that of an olive tree, which takes years to grow olives and can survive in challenging environments.

"The tree is resilient to the weather, to the soil, to the water and all that. That represents the Palestinians in many ways," he said, adding that just as olive trees continue to grow and multiply, life passes on to children and grandchildren in Palestine over time.

He said the exhibition will not directly criticize the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and noted that anything sent out from there, including materials to be shown at the expo, requires approval from Israel.

The World Expo is slated to begin on April 13, 2025 and run through Oct. 13 on Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay, centered on the theme of "Designing Future Society for Our Lives." Around 160 countries and regions are set to take part, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

As for the ongoing war in Gaza, Siam reiterated his call for a "complete cease-fire" and withdrawal of Israeli forces, while urging the Japanese government to continue "pressuring Israel" at the United Nations to halt the bloodshed.

"People are living in the open air right now because there (are) not enough tents...Life is very, very difficult" even with international humanitarian aid, he said, calling the situation a "humanitarian catastrophe."

Siam, who has been in the post for 20 years, also welcomed demonstrations staged in Japan for a cease-fire and an end to civilian casualties in Palestine, saying Japanese society "has been a great supporter of us."

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