(Check Against Delivery)
Statement by Ambassador Kazuyoshi Umemoto
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
Chargé d’affaires ad interim
At the Open Debate of the Security Council
On the Situation in the Middle East
22 July 2014
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for convening today’s meeting.
I would also like to thank Secretary-General Ban ki-moon for his briefing. I am also grateful to Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, and Ambassador David Roet, Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel, for their statements.
Today, I will touch upon two issues. First, on the Middle East peace process, and second, on the situation in Syria.
Japan is deeply concerned about the recent escalation of violence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, including the launch of an Israeli ground operation in Gaza, and the growing number of casualties. It is deplorable that despite efforts by the international community, including the Egyptian proposal and the Security Council’s demand for a ceasefire, violence continues and Palestinian militants have not accepted any international efforts. Both Israeli and Palestinian civilians are facing a serious security threat. We profoundly deplore the loss of many lives among innocent civilians. The current vicious cycle of violence might also pose a great risk to regional peace and security.
Japan joins this Council and the Secretary-General in calling for de-escalation and an end to the violence. The international community must speak with one voice to urge both sides to exercise the maximum restraint and calm the situation. In this regard, we would like to commend Egypt, the United Nations, the United States and others for their mediation efforts.
Japan will play its part in these international efforts to restore a cease-fire. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone today and appealed to him to exercise maximum restraint and to make a courageous decision to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible.
Japan’s Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi has embarked on a trip to the region. Last weekend, he had meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo. Senior Vice-Minister Kishi conveyed Japan’s support for the important role played by Egypt, especially its proposal for a ceasefire, and its willingness to make efforts to calm the situation and achieve a lasting ceasefire in coordination with the international community. He will be continuing his Middle East tour and will travel to Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Turkey, starting today.
Japan will also contribute to help address the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza. In consultation with U.N. agencies including UNRWA, Japan will consider providing humanitarian assistance based on the needs on the ground.
Even against this harsh backdrop, we should not lose hope in a two-state solution. The crisis in Gaza underscores the urgent need to achieve a just, sustainable and comprehensive peace. It is important for the international community to overcome the current crisis and foster a proper environment which would allow both Palestinian and Israeli parties to resume talks.
Japan will continue to assist Palestinian state-building efforts that aim to achieve a two-state solution. The “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” and the “Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development”, or CEAPAD, are part of our initiatives. My Mission would like to elaborate on Japan’s assistance at an appropriate occasion in the future.
Turning to the situation in Syria, Japan welcomes the unanimous adoption on 14 July of Security Council Resolution 2165 on humanitarian access. The resolution authorizes U.N. agencies to use routes across conflict lines and across borders.
As one of the major donors, Japan has contributed a total of 275 million dollars for humanitarian assistance. Japan is thus keen to see aid delivered to those in need. Japan strongly hopes that this resolution will make a concrete difference on the ground. Japan demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, enable immediate and unhindered delivery of this assistance in accordance with Resolution 2165.
On the political front, Japan welcomes the appointment of Mr. Staffan de Mistura as the Secretary-General’s new Special Envoy for Syria. We would also take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi for his strong leadership and perseverance.
The political process has reached an impasse. We regret the holding of presidential elections in June and the presidential inauguration this month, as we believe they are inconsistent with the Geneva Communiqué, including the establishment of a transitional governing body. This has made it even harder to make progress on the political front. The situation has become further complicated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) taking control of a large swath of territories that straddle Syria and Iraq.
We still believe that only a political solution based on the Geneva Communiqué would bring an end to the suffering of the Syrian people. In this context, Japan looks forward to closely working with the new Special Envoy and key international partners. Japan remains committed to providing humanitarian assistance in parallel with helping bring about a political solution like two wheels of a cart.
Thank you, Mr. President.