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Statement by H.E. Mr. Kazuyoshi Umemoto
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 July 2013
At the outset, I would like to thank the United States Mission for its 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.
From this standpoint, Japan sincerely welcomes the announcement made by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry last week in Amman concerning an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The entire international community should now mobilize political and economic means at its disposal to help Israel and Palestine overcome their differences.
At this critical juncture, Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida will conduct a visit to Israel, Palestine and Jordan starting today. Through bilateral meetings with his counterparts, he will urge both parties to conduct sincere and meaningful negotiations to realize substantial progress based on the agreement announced by Secretary of State Kerry.
My Minister is also scheduled to chair a Ministerial-Level Meeting with Israel, Palestine, and Jordan to discuss the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity.” This initiative, which Japan launched in 2006 with the aim of developing a sustainable Palestinian economy, has been making tangible progress. Several companies have expressed interest in its flagship project, “Jericho Agro-Industrial Park.” Japan is looking forward to future investments coming from various countries and areas for this project.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our commitment to the Middle East peace process and to closely cooperate with the United States, Arab countries, Europe, and other partners. In this context, Japan will continue to actively promote our initiative of the “Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD).”
With respect to Syria, Japan is deeply concerned by the serious and aggravating situation there. Japan profoundly deplores the death of many thousands of people as a result of violence, which continues despite the Secretary-General’s appeal to stop violence during Ramadan. Briefings at this Council by U.N. humanitarian organizations last week were yet another occasion to hear appalling accounts of tragic incidents taking place on the ground every day. Japan concurs with this Council, which, in the form of a Presidential Statement dated 10th July, expressed its concern about the risk of regionalization of the Syrian conflict, especially its growing impact on Lebanon’s stability.
Faced with this scourge of war, the entire international community urgently needs to address the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria. Japan remains committed to significantly contributing to such international efforts. Japan’s support through international organizations and NGOs has now amounted to US$90 million. Japan has also been disbursing US$240 million yen in loans for the stabilization of Jordan. As part of cross-border assistance, Japan will provide assistance in health services and other areas to local residents, in cooperation with assistance units of opposition groups and local NGOs.
Humanitarian assistance, however, cannot be an end in itself. The political process needs to be engaged as a matter of urgency. In this respect, it is regrettable that recent military offensives by the Syrian army have made it even more difficult to convene the so-called Geneva 2 conference. Japan condemns the Syrian authorities for not keeping their commitments and responsibilities to protect their own citizens and calls upon all parties in Syria to immediately halt the violence and abuses of human rights. We must all strive to create an appropriate environment which will bring about an early Syrian-led political transition. Japan hopes to see the Syrian National Coalition play a major role in advancing the political process under the leadership of its newly elected President Ahmed al-Jarba.
Before closing, I would like to touch upon Egypt. Following the swearing in of the interim President Adly al Mansour, an interim government has been set up and started working according to its political road map. Japan calls on all relevant parties to desist from acts of violence and behave with the greatest extent of self-restraint and responsibility. At the same time, Japan hopes that Egypt will return to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive process which respects human rights and the rule of law.
Thank you, Mr. President.