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, Madam President, for organizing this open debate, and I thank the briefers for their briefings.
 
Japan remains committed to supporting a two-state solution. We continue to believe that the most realistic solution to the conflict is two sovereign States living side by side along secure and recognized borders.
 
Lasting peace and security can be achieved only through negotiations between the parties. However, at present, there is little trust between the parties and we do not see momentum towards renewed direct negotiations. Each of us has a role to play in overcoming this impasse. For our part, Japan is committed to continue our unique confidence building measures to create an atmosphere conducive to meaningful negotiations. The role of the United States remains important. The international community must engage with the parties to bring about meaningful peace negotiations toward a solution in line with relevant Security Council resolutions and internationally agreed parameters.
 
Progress will require leadership by both parties. At the same time, we must work to maintain people’s faith in the possibility of a political settlement. I would like to highlight three points.
 
First, the serious economic and the humanitarian situation in Gaza need to be addressed urgently. Japan commends efforts by the Special Coordinator Mr. Mladenov and his team in defusing violence and providing economic and humanitarian interventions. We are committed to support implementation of the package agreed at the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC). We ask for Israel and the Palestinian Authority’s support to ensure that the benefit will reach the people in Gaza. The return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza is crucial.
 
Second, continued settlement activities as well as the demolition of Palestinian-owned structures deprive the Palestinian people of hope and undermine the viability of a two-state solution. Japan once again strongly urges Israel to cease these activities.
 
Third, we believe that investment in the next generation is important. As Prime Minister Abe mentioned in the general debate last month, we will start a new program to invite elementary and junior high school teachers from Gaza to Japan each year.  With regard to investment in the next generation, UNRWA’s role remains important. We are pleased with the tangible outcome of the Ministerial Conference held on 27 September, which Foreign Minister Kono co-chaired. There, Japan announced new assistance to UNRWA of 4.5 million US dollars to help with the electricity shortfalls in Gaza, in addition to the assistance already committed to and disbursed this year. Japan is also carrying on with its long-standing “Israel-Palestine Youth Invitation Program,” which marks its 20th anniversary this year.
 
The international community must stand united to maintain the viability of a long-term political settlement. Japan is ready to enhance our political engagement with both parties.
 
In Syria, the agreement between Russia and Turkey has brought a provisional ceasefire in Idlib, which must be made permanent given the threat facing the more than 3 million civilians there. Advancement of the political process is fundamental, thus Japan strongly supports the efforts made by SRSG de Mistura over the years, especially including the establishment of the constitutional committee. Japan will continue delivering humanitarian assistance to all Syrians facing difficulties, no matter who controls the area.
 
I thank you.