H.E. MR. YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
At the Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on "Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory"
5 August 2002
Thank you very much for convening today’s session on this important issue.
The Government of Japan deplores the recent surge in the vicious cycle of violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I refer in particular to the air strikes by the Israeli forces on Gaza City and the recent series of acts of terrorism by Palestinian extremists at Hebrew University and near Safed and Eli, which resulted in many civilian casualties. We express our deep condolences to all the bereaved families and heartfelt sympathy to those who have been injured.
It is particularly regrettable that these events took place at a time when the international community was making concerted efforts to bring peace to the region and when a prospect of resumed dialogue between the two parties was emerging.
The Government of Japan once again urges both the Israelis and the Palestinians to break this cycle of violence. In particular, we urge Israel to exert the maximum self-restraint in its use of force, and the Palestinian Authority to make the utmost effort to suppress the acts of extremists.
The Government of Japan appreciates the work that Secretary-General Annan put into the report issued last week on "the recent events that took place in Jenin and in other Palestinian cities". It is the product of great effort on the part of the United Nations Secretariat and the international community while thoroughgoing information-gathering activities, including a visit by a fact-finding team, were not possible. We consider it critical that both parties and the international community make the utmost effort to stop the violence on the ground in order to put an end to the humanitarian crisis described in the report.
The Japanese Government has been engaged in strenuous efforts for the improvement of the situation. In June, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi visited Israel and the Palestinian territories and had meetings with leaders of both parties to discuss ways to achieve peace. The Japanese Government has also appointed a Special Envoy to the Middle East, Ambassador Tatsuo Arima. He is now visiting Egypt and Jordan to consult on steps to be taken by the international community to improve the situation.
In order to realize the vision of two States living side by side in peace and security affirmed by Security Council resolution 1397, all three aspects of restoring security, providing economic and humanitarian assistance, and resuming the political process should be pursued simultaneously.
As part of these endeavors, one of the important tasks before the international community is to extend firm support for the reform of the Palestinian Authority. As an active member of the new international Task Force on Palestinian Reform, the Government of Japan will continue to contribute in this area.
This Task Force is now focused on seven fields of the reform, with a working group formed to take charge of each field. Japan is the coordinator of a working group in the field of local government and a member of the working groups in the field of judiciary, rule of law, and elections. Also, we will send a government mission to the Palestinian territories next week to assess the need for reform and further develop Japanese assistance programs for the Palestinians that will promote PA reform.
The Government of Israel for its part should help create an environment that facilitates the reform of the PA. In this context, we call upon Israel to take the following steps in particular: completely withdraw its Defense Forces to the 28 September 2000 line; transfer tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority; end closure of the Palestinian territories, which has been hindering Palestinian economic activities and movement of humanitarian goods and services; and finally, cease the destruction of infrastructure and social service facilities built with the assistance of donors.
The Japanese Government completely shares the belief expressed by the Secretary-General in his report that the international community has a responsibility to intensify its efforts to find a solution to this conflict. But at the same time it is essential that the two parties themselves make every possible effort to achieve peace. In this connection, I would like to renew our call on the leaders of the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take the political decisions necessary to achieve that goal.
Thank you very much.