Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on the Agenda Item “The Situation in the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question”

(As delivered)

Thank you, Mr. President, for organizing this open debate, and I thank the Special Coordinator Mr. Mladenov for his valuable briefing.
Japan is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Gaza since March 30. We are appalled by the number of dead and wounded, which has increased with each passing week. We respect both Palestinians’ right to peaceful demonstrations and Israelis’ right to security. However, violence cannot be justified for any reason. It will never solve problems and will not change the behavior of others.
Japan continues to call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint. We also reiterate that international human rights law and humanitarian law must be fully observed.
There is now a tangible risk of an escalation of tension on the ground that could lead to further casualties as we approach the middle of May. We must all seek ways to prevent this outcome. In this regard, the Secretary General’s calls for an independent and transparent investigation should be swiftly implemented in a way that prevents further escalation and casualties.       
Behind the current situation, there is a lack of hope for the Palestinian people. In Gaza, the humanitarian situation is dire. The existing scarcity of electricity and water will more severely affect people in summer. In the West Bank, continued settlement activities not only violate international law, but also deprive the Palestinian people of hope for a two-state solution. The financial crisis of UNRWA has caused increased anxiety for Palestinian refugees. These hopeless conditions are feeding radicalism and do not benefit either party.
The Government of Japan is determined to do what it can to keep the hope for a peaceful future alive. Regarding UNRWA, I am happy to announce that two days ago, Japan decided to provide 10 million dollars of additional contributions. We are also ready to call for further cooperation with UNRWA by Asian countries at the forthcoming Ministerial Conference on Cooperation among East Asian countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD). We hope the solidarity shown by the international community will help Palestinians find hope in these difficult times, and prevent them from being driven to radicalism.
In this context, I also would like to touch upon the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park (JAIP). This industrial complex now creates tangible employment and also provides Palestinian manufacturers and entrepreneurs with a glimpse of a positive future. We envision products made in the Park being exported through Jordan to the region and beyond in the years to come.
“Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative has offered opportunities where Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Japan cooperate for the economic development of Palestine through regional cooperation. A ministerial meeting is expected to be held soon.
Japan believes that keeping hope and mutual trust alive through these efforts is essential, particularly when the political track is at a difficult juncture.
Ultimately, though, these projects alone cannot achieve peace. We reiterate that lasting peace and security can be achieved only through negotiations between the parties. Japan calls upon both parties to take concrete steps towards renewed negotiations leading to the peaceful co-existence of a viable Palestinian state and Israel with secure and recognized borders.
We will enhance our political engagement with both parties including at the highest level. Japan continues to support a two-state solution that accommodates the aspirations of both sides, in line with relevant Security Council resolutions and known parameters. The final status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations based on the assumption that it will be the future capital of both states.
I thank you.