Statement by H.E. Ambassador ISHIKANE Kimihiro, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, United Nations Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East

Mr. President,
There have been notable developments since the last open debate in July, in particular the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain as well as Sudan. The suspension of the “application of sovereignty” over the West Bank by Israel is also a positive gesture. Japan appreciates the mediation efforts by the United States and hopes these events will lead to an easing of tensions and to stability in the region.
Despite such developments, however, the situation on the ground remains worrisome. The Government of Israel has recently approved plans for the construction of about 5,000 housing units in settlements in the West Bank. Japan deeply deplores the continued settlement activities by the Government of Israel, despite repeated calls from the international community including Japan to freeze such activities which are in violation of international law. Such action runs counter to the efforts to provide momentum towards reducing tensions in the region, including through the agreements to normalize bilateral relations.
The Middle East peace issue should be resolved only through negotiations among the parties concerned, and not through violence or unilateral actions. I wish to reaffirm Japan’s commitment to supporting a two-state solution based on relevant UN Security Council resolutions and internationally agreed parameters. Japan will continue to work on building confidence among the parties with a view to the resumption of dialogue, the first step towards a two-state solution.
Intra-Palestinian reconciliation is also imperative to realizing a two-state solution. Japan welcomes the announcement by President Abbas at the general debate last month of his intention to hold elections, which should provide a unique opportunity for reconciliation and solidarity among the Palestinian people through the democratic process.
Mr. President,
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a human security crisis, threatening people’s survival, livelihoods and dignity around the world, including in the Middle East. As always, the most vulnerable people are the hardest hit. The increasing number of infections among Palestine refugees is particularly alarming, given their living conditions in the overcrowded camps and the limited health services available. Japan commends UNRWA’s efforts in this regard, and expresses its utmost respect for the Agency’s frontline workers operating under challenging circumstances.
In addition to the contribution of about 1.5 million USD to UNRWA earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 flash appeal, Japan has recently decided to provide approximately 4.1 million USD of food assistance through UNRWA. This brings Japan’s total contribution to UNRWA in 2020 to approximately 30 million USD.
The pandemic calls for short-term humanitarian assistance as well as medium- to long-term social and economic support. Japan will continue providing necessary assistance to Palestine refugees through UNRWA, with a view to protecting and empowering them and ensuring human security. In this respect, Japan expects UNRWA to continue its efforts to improve and strengthen its management, which is essential for delivering effectively to people in need.
Lastly, we should not forget the importance of improving the overall quality of life in Palestine even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Japan has recently decided to provide approximately 34 million USD of assistance, which includes food assistance through WFP and aid for construction of schools and improvement of refugee camps. Japan reiterates its continued commitment to the realization of a life of dignity and hope for the Palestinian people.
I thank you.