Xi calls for immediate cease-fire, stresses two-state solution
'The collective punishment of people in Gaza must stop'
Published: Nov 21, 2023 09:51 PM
Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Palestinian-Israeli issue on November 21, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Palestinian-Israeli issue on November 21, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday attended the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, saying it is imperative that the parties to the conflict must end hostilities and achieve a ceasefire immediately. The summit is the first time since the group's expansion in August.

Xi laid out in an opening address three urgency and imperatives including the parties to the conflict must end hostilities and achieve a ceasefire immediately, stop all forms of violence and attacks against civilians and release civilians held captive, and it's also imperative to ensure humanitarian corridors and stop collective punishments targeting the Gaza population. The international community must act with practical measures to prevent the conflict from spilling over and endangering stability in the Middle East as a whole.

With similar or aligned positions on the Palestine issue, those countries, representing the Global South, are delivering a collective voice, helping to advance a diplomatic solution to the crisis and underscoring the constructive role of the Global South in addressing hotspot issues today, experts said. 

This "BRICS voice" is fundamentally different from that of the US and the West, some experts said. As the US has not yet prevailed upon Israel for a cease-fire in Gaza, the Arab world and developing countries are showing growing disappointment toward it and pinning more hope on BRICS - a platform amplifying developing countries' voices on world affairs. 

Although one or two single summits may not be enough to solve he conflict directly, the collective appearance and consistent claim of developing countries will be helpful to find a road map for Israeli-Palestinian peace on the basis of a "two-state solution," including the concept of promoting peace and realizing a peaceful coexistence with more specific proposals, experts said. 

Xi told the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Palestinian-Israeli issue that the root cause of the Palestinian-Israeli situation is the fact that the right of the Palestinian people to statehood, their right to existence, and their right of return have long been ignored.

"I have emphasized on many occasions that the only viable way to break the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in the two-state solution, in the restoration of the legitimate national rights of Palestine, and in the establishment of an independent State of Palestine." he said. 

There can be no sustainable peace and security in the Middle East without a just solution to the question of Palestine, Xi said. 

The virtual summit on the Palestinian-Israeli issue on Tuesday was chaired by South Africa, which also invited leaders from the group's new members, including Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Tuesday for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said regional states and members of the BRICS group of countries could be involved in efforts to reach such a settlement, Reuters reported. 

In televised comments to a virtual BRICS summit, Putin once again blamed the Middle East crisis on the failure of US diplomacy in the region, according to the media report. 

"Before the BRICS expansion, there was a consultation mechanism inside the group on Middle East affairs. On such a major hotspot issue, BRICS countries surely need to formulate a voice that is different from the US and the West," Wang Youming, director of the Institute of Developing Countries at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Particularly, because the US has not urged Israel to enact a cease-fire as a growing number of innocent civilians are being killed in the conflict, it is necessary for the Global South to stand together to show their attitude when their positions are similar or aligned on the Palestine issue, Wang noted. 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also urged on Tuesday the international community to agree on urgent and concrete actions to end the suffering in Gaza and establish a path towards a just and peaceful resolution of this conflict.

In October 18, the UNSC failed to adopt a resolution put forth by Brazil that would have called for humanitarian pauses to allow full, safe and unhindered access for United Nations agencies and their partners, due to a veto cast by the US.

Some experts believe that Global South countries are generally on the side of justice, more sympathetic and supportive of the Palestinians and condemning Israel's indiscriminate killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip. 

Through the BRICS mechanism, the collective appearance of the Global South is of great significance, and while it may not necessarily solve the conflict, the unity of developing countries is important, they noted. 

Given the current circumstances, it is very timely and very important that we meet and speak up for justice and for peace on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, Xi said. 

China's role 

During the summit, Xi also said China calls for early convening of an international peace conference that is more authoritative to build international consensus for peace and work toward an early solution to the question of Palestine that is comprehensive, just and sustainable.

The summit came as Beijing just host an Arab-Islamic foreign ministers' delegation and maintained close communication with other UN Security Council permanent members, for example, France. 

Vice President Han Zheng and Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met and held talks with the delegation respectively. China highly commends the efforts for peace and the call for justice made by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit and supports the joint ministerial follow-up committee in playing a greater role, Mao Ning, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Tuesday. The delegation made China its first stop for international mediation, which reflects their trust in China and the tradition of mutual understanding and support between the two sides, Mao said. 

China has provided humanitarian assistance to help ease the humanitarian plight in Gaza. This includes $2 million of emergency humanitarian assistance provided through the Palestinian National Authority and UN agencies, and emergency humanitarian supplies worth 15 million yuan ($2.1 million), such as food and medicine, to the Gaza Strip with the help of Egypt, Xi said. 

China will provide more supplies and assistance according to the needs of the people in Gaza, he added. 

In the eyes of Arab nations, China is seen as upholding justice. China stands for justice and peace, Sun Degang, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"We condemn attacks on civilians. Second, we have an image of having no self-interest in the Middle East, and the visit of delegations from Arab and Islamic countries to China reflect their recognition of this," Sun said, noting that China does not seek sphere of influence or proxies in the Middle East.

This means China could play a significant role in de-escalating the conflict between Israel and Palestine, he said. 

In contrast to the constructive role of China, the US has not exerted enough pressure on Israel to enact a cease-fire, nor has it made any positive moves to resolve the crisis through diplomatic means, experts said. "It has disappointed the Arab world, and this pushes developing countries to pin their expectations on the BRICS mechanism," Song Wei, a professor at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The BRICS summit will reach a basic consensus on whether the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be resolved in such a peaceful way. The UN expects more of the BRICS mechanism, hoping that the BRICS mechanism will play a greater role in de-escalating the situation and pushing forward a cease-fire, she said.