(As delivered)

At the Public Meeting of the Security Council
on the Situation in the Middle East
Including the Palestinian Question

15 September 2003

Mr. President,

I have listened carefully to the briefing by Mr. Roed-Larson and the statements by the members of the Council. As evidenced by the rapid development of events in recent days and clearly demonstrated in the briefing and the statements, the "Roadmap" is at a critical juncture. Japan is gravely concerned about this situation, because peace in the Middle East is key to the peace and stability of the region as a whole, and the "Roadmap" still remains the only viable way to achieving peace. In order to salvage the "Roadmap" from the current crisis, the ongoing vicious circle of violence and mistrust must be broken without delay. For that purpose, it is a matter of absolute necessity for both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides to restore calm to the situation immediately and to resume their dialogue and cooperation in accordance with the "Roadmap," and above all, to exercise the utmost restraint and exert the maximum effort possible in order to bring the violence to a halt.

At this point, I would like to say a word with regard to the decision announced by the Israeli government on 11 September to remove Chairman Arafat. The removal by force of the Chairman, who has been elected by the people, will not contribute to the improvement of the situation but will lead instead to a further worsening of conditions. Japan strongly requests that Israel not go forward with this decision. It is our fervent hope that Israel will fully consider the consequences of its own actions and proceed with prudence and caution.

At the same time, Japan recognizes and understands Israel's concern over the security of its people. The Palestinian Authority must be resolute in the battle to stop the violence being perpetrated by the extremist factions. Japan will continue to urge the Palestinian side to take action against the extremists and to strengthen their security apparatus as quickly as possible. We will continue our efforts to assist them in this area. Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason. Japan reiterates its condemnation of the brutal terrorist attacks that continue to victimize large numbers of innocent people.

Japan will continue to support to the fullest extent possible the efforts by both parties to achieve peace. We hope that, under the leadership of the new Prime Minister, Mr. Ahamad Qurei, the new cabinet of the Palestinian Authority will be formed swiftly and will bring renewed vigor to the efforts being made toward the successful implementation of the "Roadmap." Japan is committed to continuing its active support of such undertakings. The international community needs to assist the new cabinet. However, Mr. President, let me repeat once again: It is imperative for both parties to end the vicious circle of violence and mistrust immediately, and only then can a true dialogue be initiated, based on mutual trust between the parties.

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