H.E. Mr. Koichi Haraguchi
Permanent Representative of Japan
At the Public Meeting of the Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East Including the Palestinian Question
23 March 2004
The killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, by the Israeli forces was committed recklessly with no consideration of the consequences that would follow. It was an act which cannot be justified. It has seriously harmed the Middle East peace process. Japan condemns the killing of Sheikh Yassin.
Since the beginning of March, it seems that the vicious circle, in which violence begets even greater violence, has again commenced in this region. We fear that the killing of Sheikh Yassin may provoke serious retaliation and result in overall escalation of the conflict. Therefore, the situation must be regarded as extremely serious. We are also concerned that the negative impact of the incident may not be contained within the context of the Israeli-Palestine conflict but may spread to a broader geographical area. To prevent this incident from further fueling the negative chain reaction between hatred and violence, we urge Israel to take effective measures immediately to calm the situation, while exercising maximum self-restraint.
For the progress of peace, there is no choice for the two parties but ultimately to overcome their anger and loss of trust in each other so that they may sit together at the negotiation table. We earnestly call upon the leaders of both Israel and Palestine to show courageous leadership by redirecting themselves promptly toward peace through negotiation and resuming the implementation of the Roadmap, in order to realize as early as possible the vision of two states living side by side in peace.