Middle East

January 13, 2015

1. Basic Position

 Since the “Arab Spring”, the Middle East region has became more fluid and destabilized. Japan is convinced that progress towards a comprehensive peace in the Middle East will greatly ease the tension that exists in the region and will draw out its potential for regional prosperity to the maximum extent, and hopes that a just, lasting and comprehensive peace will be realized at the earliest possible time.

 Japan supports a two-state solution whereby Israel and a future independent Palestinian state live side by side in peace and security. Japan urges both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to exert further efforts to build mutual trust, to exert maximum self restraint avoiding any unilateral action that hinders the resumption of the peace talks, and to advance direct negotiations in order to realize a two-state solution at the earliest possible time.

 Japan emphasizes that the conflict between the Israeli and the Palestinian sides should be resolved only through negotiations, based on relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Roadmap, the agreements previously reached by the parties and the Arab Peace Initiative, and that any violent acts must be firmly rejected.

 Based on the aforementioned position, Japan is actively contributing in the process through three pillars; political dialogues with the parties concerned, promoting confidence-building between the Israeli and the Palestinian sides, and extending economic assistance to the Palestinians. Particurally, Japan will continue its unique efforts such as through the Conference on the Cooperation among East Asian countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD) and the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative.

 Japan considers that the international community should actively support for peace in the Middle East. In this context, Japan highly appreciates the efforts toward peace made by the United States, the Quartet and the Middle Eastern countries. Considering that the resolution of the Israel-Paletinian issue could lead to the improvement of the relationship between Israel and Arab States, Japan supports the Arab Peace Initiative and urges Israel once again to consider the Initiative seriously, and also urges Arab countries to respond by taking concrete steps to implement the initiative. Japan is ready to be actively engaged in the multilateral process when it is convened.

2. The Current Situation of the Palestinian Track and Japan’s Position

 Japan is deeply concerned that the direct negotiation is currently suspended and strongly urges both sides for its immediate resumption.

 Japan takes a position that it will not recognize any unilateral change by either party which may prejudge the final resolution. While considering that the issues including the final status should be solved through direct negotiation, Japan reaffirms that Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, are against international law and should be immediately and fully frozen, and reiterates its call to Israel to completely freeze the settlement activities.

 Japan understands the strong wish of the Palestinians for their future independent state, and supports the realization of it. Therefore, Japan supported the United Nations General Assembly resolution to accord Palestine Non-member Observer State status in the United Nations in November 2012. Japan understands that Palestine holds greater responsibility for the international community after the passing of this resolution. Japan strongly urges Palestine to exert further effort to realize peace in the Middle East, while urging Palestine to take a restrained stance against any unilateral actions without negotiations, such as accession to international organizations which may negatively impact the resumption of the direct negotiations.

 Japan supports the vision that (1)the borders under a two-state solution should be defined through negotiations, based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, in a way that will achieve peaceful co-existence of a viable Palestinian state and Israel with secure and recognized borders. Through such a two-state solution, the Palestinians will be able to exercise their rights to establish an independent state, and Israel will be able to enjoy a greatly enhanced security environment, and both parties will be able to launch full-fledged cooperation for mutual prosperity.

 (2)The final status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations based on the assumption that it will be the future capital of both sides. Japan stresses that it will not recognize any attempt which may prejudge the final status of Jerusalem, including the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem, and expresses deep concern about the change of status quo conditions of East Jerusalem, such as continuation of the settlement activities and the demolition of Palestinian housings.

 (3)Japan considers that the issue of refugees should be resolved through negotiations between the parties concerned in a fair manner as an important element of the final status issues.

 Japan is concerned that the Gaza Strip remains under severe humanitarian conditions. The resolution of the Gaza issue should lead to the resumption of the Middle East Peace negotiations and stabilization of the entire Middle East region. In order to end the reoccurance of armed conflict and ceasefire between Palestinian groups including Hamas and Israel, it is essential to achieve effective governance by the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, a durable ceasefire agreement, and establishment of an international mechanism supported by the international community. Japan stresses the importance of assuring the prevention of the inflow of arms into the Gaza Strip through such measures and improving the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip by further easing the blockade.

 Welcoming the security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel in the West Bank, Japan calls on all parties to cease all acts of violence and incitement.

3. Assistance to the Palestinians

 Since the Oslo Accords, Japan has been committed to assisting the Palestinians with a view to creating a favorable environment for the achievement of peace in the Middle East and has so far provided assistance that exceeds 1.4 billion US dollars. Japan has been working to mitigate the hardships and difficulties faced by the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and to support their economic development. Japan is also determined to contribute to the capacity and institution building that is required to build a viable Palestinian state.

 Japan particularly continues to promote, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Jordan, the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative that is aimed at establishing a business model for regional cooperation through attracting investment and job creation. For these purposes, Japan will accerelate its efforts to activate the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park, which is the flagship project of the initiative. Japan hopes that limitation of movement of people and access in the West Bank imposed by Israel will be eased, and that such measures will contribute to the development of the Palestinian economy.

 In order to contribute to the international efforts to improve economic and social living of the Palestinian refugees, Japan will continue its efforts to assist the refugees through United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

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