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

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Mr. President,

          This will be the last time Japan will make a statement in an open debate on the Middle East as a member of the Security Council for the present two-year term. Unfortunately, the Security Council has made little progress in the Middle East Peace Process or pressing regional issues in the Middle East region, including Syria and Yemen.
          Japan has consistently stressed the importance of the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the need to fully implement Security Council resolutions and other international commitments, and the need to generate confidence in the region where mutual distrust is prevalent. Japan has continued its sustained efforts focusing on the importance of humanitarian assistance and social resilience.
          On the Middle East peace process, Japan continues to support a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, which will achieve peaceful co-existence of a viable Palestinian state and Israel with secure and recognized borders. Japan emphasizes that this should be reached through negotiation, based on relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the Quartet Roadmap, the agreements previously reached by the parties and the Arab Peace Initiative.   
          An important step has been taken to mend the division between the West Bank and Gaza. Japan appreciates Egypt’s efforts in particular, and welcomes the move towards the Palestinian Authority assuming its responsibilities in Gaza. We hope that the agreement between Fatah and Hamas will be implemented in a timely manner. Japan believes that achieving effective governance by the Palestinian Authority in Gaza is essential in preventing conflict and making progress in the peace process.
          At the same time, the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank should first and foremost alleviate the humanitarian crisis that affects every facet of livelihoods in Gaza. Last month, during the High-Level Week of the United Nations General Assembly, Foreign Minister Kono announced 20 million USD in additional aid to Gaza and the West Bank, including food aid and the development of a sewage network. 
          To assist Palestine’s development efforts, Japan is seeking to upgrade “the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative, contributing to capacity building at border facilities and facilitating the distribution of goods. The economic development of Palestine provides an important basis upon which a viable Palestinian state and Israel can co-exist in peace and prosperity.
          Japan’s assistance will not only promote the resilience of Palestinian communities and improve economic conditions, but also promote confidence building among the relevant parties. We are convinced that these measures will contribute to creating an environment conducive to a two state solution.
          Unfortunately, two state solution continues to be undermined by the issues of settlements and violence, often leading to a chain of negative reactions. Settlement activities are in violation of international law, and physically erode the possibility of a two state solution. They must be fully frozen. Violence is fundamentally incompatible with the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and leads to bitter exchange of rhetoric and response. It is heartbreaking to think of people on the ground directly facing the situation. Being mindful of resolution 2334, Japan would like to reiterate that issues of violence and settlements must be addressed to reverse the negative trend undermining a two state solution. 
Mr. President,
          Implementation of multilateral agreements and Security Council resolutions is equally important to issues pertaining to Iran. Japan supports the JCPOA, which contributes to the international non-proliferation regime and regional stability. The IAEA, which verifies and monitors the implementation of commitment under this agreement, has issued a statement last week that nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented. The statement also notes that the IAEA has had access to all locations it needs to visit thus far. Such words are encouraging.
           At the same time, the implementation of Security Council resolution 2231, which endorses the JCPOA, is an important responsibility of all Member States. Japan believes that ballistic missile launches by Iran are inconsistent with the resolution. The June report by the Secretary-General on resolution 2231 calls upon Iran to refrain from launching ballistic missiles, which escalates regional tensions. In addition, the same report informs us that some individuals subject to travel ban are reportedly present in countries outside of Iran. Japan emphasizes the need for the comprehensive implementation of both nuclear-related and non-nuclear aspects of this resolution.  
Mr. President,
           I began today's statement by noting that the Security Council has made little progress on the issues in the Middle East during Japan's current term. This is not to discredit the important achievements of the Council over the years or the role it can play in the days ahead. Japan together with other members of the Council and the international community will remain actively engaged on the challenges facing the Middle East.
 I thank you, Mr. President.