Statement by H.E.Mr.Kazuo Kodama
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the Open Debate of the Security Council
On the Situation in the Middle East
23 January 2013
At the outset, I would like to thank Ambassador Mohammad Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan, for his leadership in convening this open debate. I would also like to express appreciation to Mr. Robert Serry, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, for his briefing.
Japan has long understood the Palestinians’ aspiration for building an independent State and has supported the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Japan thus endorses a two-state solution under which Israel and a future independent Palestinian State would co-exist, side by side in peace and security. In light of this, Japan voted in favor of the General Assembly resolution regarding the status of Palestine at the United Nations last November and welcomes that the resolution was adopted with the support of a large number of Member States.
Palestine now bears greater responsibilities vis-à-vis the international community. Japan once again calls upon Palestine not to use its non-member observer State status accorded by the GA resolution to act in a way that might negatively affect or hinder direct negotiations with Israel. We ask for prudence with respect to conduct such as applying for membership in international organizations, an action which might negatively affect prospects for the resumption of negotiations.
As for the situation in Gaza, we welcome that the calm brokered by Egypt in November has been largely held so far. We urge all parties concerned to continue to respect the ceasefire with a view to realizing a durable calm in Gaza. We also encourage tangible steps to be taken towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation, while rejecting any attempt to promote violence or to deny Israel’s right to exist.
It is regrettable that negotiations between the parties remain stalled, putting in danger the prospect for a two-state solution. Japan requests both Palestine and Israel to establish relationships of mutual trust and to promptly return to the negotiation table. Japan will continue to make an active contribution to move the Middle East peace process forward in cooperation with the United States, Arab countries, the Quartet, and other partners.
In this context, we deeply deplore that, after the adoption of the GA resolution, the Israeli government announced its approval of the large scale construction of housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Settlement activities need to be frozen as they are a violation of international law. Japan is also worried about a temporary suspension of the transfer of tax revenues which Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Support for the fiscal stability of the PA is a necessary task that Israel should conduct. We strongly hope that, following the national elections that took place yesterday in Israel, the new government to be formed will create conditions for a resumption of meaningful peace negotiations, through rescinding those decisions that are only exacerbating tensions between the parties.
With respect to assistance to Palestine, Japan, together with Palestine, will hold a “Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD)” next February in Tokyo. Japan will thus contribute to promoting assistance to the Palestinians in cooperation with other East Asian countries.
Addressing the issues of Palestinian refugees is also of critical importance. Bearing in mind the crucial role UNRWA plays in this matter, Japan has extended to UNRWA another US$10 million in assistance including US$7.7 million in food aid since last November. Japan remains firmly committed to making substantial contributions to support its activities.
Allow me now to touch upon Syria. Japan is deeply concerned by the serious and aggravating situation in Syria and profoundly deplores the death of many thousands of people as a result of continued violence. An attack against Aleppo University last week is further tragic testimony to that.
As an active member of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People, Japan reiterates its call on all parties in Syria to immediately halt the violence and abuses of human rights and condemns the Syrian authorities for not keeping their own commitments and responsibilities to protect their own citizens. Supporting diplomatic efforts by Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Japan once again emphasizes the importance of advancing the process of a Syrian-led political transition.
Faced with this appalling situation, we cannot remain mere spectators. Last week, on Switzerland’s initiative, 57 countries including Japan jointly sent a letter to the President of the Security Council, requesting a referral of the situation in Syria to the ICC. We call upon the Council to duly recognize the importance of accountability for crimes committed on the ground and to send out an unequivocal message to demand that international human rights and humanitarian law be observed by the Syrian authorities and all other parties.
As the harsh winter is giving tremendous pains to an increasing number of refugees on the ground, there is an urgent need to address the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria. Japan commends the Secretary-General’s initiative to convene a High-level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria to be held on 30 January in Kuwait City. The Government of Japan intends to dispatch a senior level delegation from the capital with a view to significantly contributing to international efforts.
Thank you, Mr. President.