Statement by H.E. Mr. Motohide Yoshikawa
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the Open Debate of the Security Council
On the Situation in the Middle East
29 April 2014
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for convening today’s meeting.
I would like to thank Mr. Serry, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, for his briefing. I am also grateful to Ambassador Mansour, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, and Ambassador Prosor, 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.
On the Middle East peace process, Japan has been following recent developments with concern. We would like to call on Israel and Palestine not to take unilateral action that might negatively affect the peace process. Japan reiterates its full support for the U.S. mediation efforts and strongly demands both parties to continue the peace negotiations persistently. It is also important for the international community to foster a proper environment which would allow both parties to continue their talks.
Originally, today, I would have liked to give you a detailed update on two Japanese initiatives aimed at mobilizing private sector investment in Palestine, had both parties agreed to an extension of their direct talks.
The first initiative is the project called the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity.” Its flagship project, “Jericho Agro-Industrial Park (JAIP)”, is scheduled to start its operation this summer.
The second is the “Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development”, or CEAPAD. At the second ministerial meeting of CEAPAD, held in Jakarta on 1st March, Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida pledged a total of 200 million dollars for Palestinian assistance. As part of that pledge, an aid package in the amount of 62 million dollars was already disbursed last month.
Synergy effects between the Japanese initiatives and the Initiative for the Palestinian Economy announced on 24 April by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, could result in enormous gains. I would like to further elaborate on these initiatives at an appropriate occasion in the future.
Turning to the situation in Syria, we are deeply concerned that no substantial improvements have been witnessed on the humanitarian situation even after the Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2139 this February. Japan demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately cease all attacks against civilians in accordance with the resolution. They must also ensure immediate, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas affected by the conflict.
For humanitarian assistance, Japan pledged an additional 120 million dollars at the conference in Kuwait on 15 January. The entire amount has been disbursed. That has brought the total of our humanitarian assistance to 275 million dollars.
Regarding the political process, unfortunately there is no concrete prospect of a resumption of the Geneva 2 Conference. The Syrian Government’s refusal of Ambassador Brahimi’s proposal to make parallel discussions on both terrorism and a transitional governing body has made it even harder to get out of the current impasse.
The speaker of the Syrian parliament recently announced that presidential elections will take place on 3rd June. In this regard, I would like to recall that both the Secretary-General and Ambassador Brahimi have repeatedly warned that the holding of elections under the current circumstances would damage the political process.
As for the chemical weapons, about 8% of the chemicals still remain in Syria. They should be removed swiftly. In order to achieve the target of eliminating the Syrian chemical weapon program by the end of June, the Syrian Government must intensify its efforts to expeditiously meet its elimination obligations set by Security Council Resolution 2118 and relevant decisions by the OPCW.
We, for our part, have disbursed a total of 18 million dollars to the trust funds established under the OPCW and the United Nations. Japan would like to renew its commitment to provide the greatest possible cooperation in this regard.
I thank you, Mr. President.