Statement by H.E. Ambassador YAMAZAKI Kazuyuki, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Security Council Briefing, Agenda item “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”

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December 29, 2023

Thank you, Mr. President.

First of all, I also thank Mr. Khiari, Mr. Muasher, and Mr. Epshtain for their respective briefings.

Just one week ago, we adopted Security Council Resolution 2720 in the hope that it would bring about substantial improvements on the humanitarian situation through expanding the delivery of humanitarian relief to the people in Gaza.

However, it seems there has been little impact on the ground so far, amid the heavy fighting and air strikes resulting in the displacement of around 90% of Gaza’s population. People in Gaza struggle for survival every single day with barely any access to food and water. The hospitals in Gaza are operating far beyond their capacities in unimaginable conditions.

The UN recently said that 40% of the population of Gaza is at risk of famine. What is happening in Gaza is nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Israel’s troops have expanded their ground operations across most of the Gaza Strip, including in the central town of Deir al-Balah. In the Maghazi refugee camp, many people were reportedly killed by airstrikes.

On the other hand, Hamas is also continuing to launch indiscriminaterocket attacks against Israel, causing damages to innocent citizens even today. This must be stopped, and the remaining hostages must be released immediately.

Mr. President,

It is a fact that the UN and other humanitarian actors face various obstacles in facilitating aid delivery to and throughout Gaza. The Secretary-General has stated that an effective aid operation in Gaza requires: first and foremost security, and staff, logistical capacity, and the resumption of commercial activity.

We therefore strongly urge all parties to act in good faith based on Resolutions 2720 and 2712. In particular, Israel must do its utmost to remove these obstacles and constraints. The opening of Kerem Sharom border crossing was a step forward but the continued airstrikes are one of the major impediments to humanitarian operations.

In this regard, we welcome the appointment of Ms. Sigrid Kaag as the Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza and will support all her efforts to accelerate the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza.

Mr. President,

The serious spillover of the conflict is already happening. There has been increased cross-border fighting between Israel and Hezbollah across the Blue Line posing a grave risk to regional stability. The Houthi’s continued attacks on merchant and commercial vessels pose a grave threat to maritime security. We strongly demand the Houthis to immediately cease such attacks and release the Japanese-operated “Galaxy Leader” cargo ship and its crew.

Regarding the situation in the occupied West Bank, we strongly condemn mass arbitrary arrests, settler violence and even unlawful killings that are widely reported. We urge the Israeli government to take every measure to prevent those acts which would further undermine prospect for a just and lasting political solution. We also affirm the important role of the Hashemite Custodianship over the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, while we recognize all diplomatic efforts, including the proposal that is reportedly made by Egypt, the Council also needs to unite to bring an end to this ongoing tragedy. We must keep the spirit of a two-State solution alive and recall that this remains the only viable path for peace, security, and prosperity in the region.

Thank you.

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