H.E. Mr. Kenzo Oshima
Permanent Representative of Japan
At the Public Meeting of the Security Council
On the Situation in the Middle East
Including the Palestinian Question
21 July 2005
Let me first thank Mr. Alvaro de Soto for his first briefing since his appointment as Special Coordinator. He has our high expectation as we approach the start of Israel’s disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank scheduled for mid-August. We look forward to Mr. de Soto’s prudent handling of this process.
While we welcome the start of the Gaza disengagement and appreciate Israeli government’s firm determination to implement the withdrawal despite some domestic opposition, we must express our concerns over the recent resumption of violence by the Palestinian militant groups and the Israeli army. Such violence threatens the continuation of the “tahadiya” (truce). In the circumstances, it is important that President Abbas exercise strong leadership to ensure self-restraint on the part of the Palestinian groups concerned. In this respect, we appreciate that the Palestinian groups including Hamas confirmed their continued observation of “tahadiya.” Israel and the international community should provide President Abbas with effective support.
The essential point here is that the withdrawal should be conducted undisturbed and should allow to open the way for the resumption of the roadmap. For this to happen, it is critically important that the two parties make their utmost efforts and at the same time the international donor community provide financial and other support for their efforts, including the financial support from Arab countries.
On the Palestinian side, vigorous efforts are needed to bring about drastic improvement in security measures. For the Palestinian Authority, the challenge is to reduce and stop violence. This is important not merely for a successful Gaza disengagement or for the promotion of peace with Israel, but also, and in a more fundamental sense, for a proof that it has the basic capability necessary to function as a state. We therefore support reform policy pursued by President Abbas, as we also support the efforts made by General Ward in this area.
Japan supports the coordination efforts deployed by Mr. Wolfensohn to secure trade and communication routes, such as easing of the restriction of movement and the construction of safe passageway. We express our expectation in this regard that Israel will adopt a more flexible attitude that will ensure the safety of movement of Palestinian people and of goods with greater efficiency.
Japan has sought to play any active and constructive role to promote peace in the Middle East. As part of such efforts, my Government invited Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas to Japan, and President Abbas made his visit last May. On that occasion, new assistance program for Palestinians amounting to $100 million was announced to facilitate disengagement and rehabilitation in Gaza and the West Bank, and this will be implemented as soon as possible. This was followed by the visit of our Special Envoy for the Middle East, Ambassador Arima, to Israel and Palestine, to underscore that the success of the Gaza disengagement is a prerequisite for the revitalization of the roadmap. Japan will continue its active engagement in economic assistance and for the advancement of the peace process, including further emergency relief for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the northern West Bank and mid-term and long-term assistance for the sustainability of the Palestinian economy.
Concerning the issue of the wall, we saw a positive development in February this year when a considerable part of the routing of the wall in the southern area was rerouted from a path running inside the green line to one coinciding with the green line. However, construction of the wall inside the green line continues in other locations.
In regard to this issue, we have maintained the view: first, that the lives of a large number of innocent Israelis have been lost by Palestinian terrorist acts, and the Palestinian Authority must make the utmost efforts to suppress terrorism; second, the construction of the wall inside the green line, which the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice determined as being contrary to international law, is adversely affecting the livelihood of Palestinians and is prejudicial to the outcome of the final status negotiations, and therefore must be stopped. It is to be deplored that the wall construction inside the green line continues. We are especially concerned about the construction of the wall in the East Jerusalem area. It happens at a very time when heightened caution is required for the success of the Gaza withdrawal. It also hinges on an area that is considered as one of the most sensitive in the final status negotiations, and it concerns an area with a large number of people who will be adversely affected.
We believe that the resolution of the wall issue and the settlement issue is possible only through the process of steady implementation of the roadmap. This is yet another reason why it is so important for the two parties to make the Gaza disengagement a success, and let this success flow-on to re-energize the process of implementation of the roadmap. Japan stands ready to offer its support to the two parties to implement the roadmap and realize the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.
Before concluding, we welcome the formation of the Seniora government in Lebanon on July 19th. As Lebanon faces many difficult challenges which would require delicate handling, we hope that Prime Minister Seniora and his government will be able to exert leadership and set about addressing the many problems at hand as soon as possible.