Thank you, Mr. President, for organizing this important open debate, and I thank the Special Coordinator Mr. Mladenov for his valuable briefing.
2018 was a challenging year in terms of the question of Palestine. In the absence of any political horizon, mutual distrust deepened and civilian casualties mounted.
As a new year begins, we look to the parties to take concrete steps to restore confidence and build the right environment to eventually renew negotiations.
We reiterate our call for cessation of all acts of violence, provocations and incitement.
Japan urges the Government of Israel to freeze its settlement activities.
We call on the Palestinian parties to sincerely engage in reconciliation in order to bring Gaza back under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
The Government of Japan is determined to continue its engagement to help keep the hope for a peaceful future alive.
Developing economic independence for Palestine is a prerequisite for achieving a two-state solution. Japan puts importance on providing support in the area of Information and Communication Technology. ICT will enable Palestine to be connected to global markets despite its geographical limitations. This year, at the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park (JAIP), we intend to expand programs to the ICT area, including by establishing inside the Park a Palestinian Industrial Capacity Development Center focusing on ICT.
As for UNRWA, Japan in 2018 provided its highest contribution ever, focusing more on education and health care. We are committed to continue our support to UNRWA and encourage others to do likewise.
During the last High-Level Week, Prime Minister Abe announced a new program to invite elementary and junior high school teachers from Gaza to Japan every year. This coming March, the first group of teachers will visit Japan.
We hope programs such as these will help Palestinian youth find hope for the future rather than turn to radicalism. Ultimately, Japan continues to believe that the issue of Israel and Palestine, including final status issues, should be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant Security Council resolutions and past agreements.
Taking this opportunity, let me turn to the wider region. Regarding Yemen, Japan welcomes the breakthrough last month in Stockholm. We commend the work of the Security Council to support its implementation, including through the adoption of Resolutions 2451 and 2452 and the establishment of the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA). We hope that the agreement will lead to peace in Yemen and provide a swift resolution to the immense humanitarian challenges that the Yemeni people face.
I thank you, Mr. President.