Chinese FM reiterates China's stance on Palestine-Israel issue before chairing UN high-level meeting
Published: Nov 29, 2023 10:33 PM Updated: Nov 29, 2023 10:50 PM
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in the role of Security Council rotating president, speaks during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East and the Palestine-Israel conflict, at the UN headquarters in New York City on November 29, 2023. Photo: AFP

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in the role of Security Council rotating president, speaks during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East and the Palestine-Israel conflict, at the UN headquarters in New York City on November 29, 2023. Photo: AFP

China's top diplomat Wang Yi reiterated the country's stance on the Palestine-Israel conflict with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday, before chairing a UN Security Council high-level meeting on the issue. Wang stressed that China stands firmly on the side of peace, and called for a complete cease-fire, as well as the implementation of a two-state solution as soon as possible. 

Chinese observers said Wang's propositions, as well as China's chairing of the high-level meeting, come at a key juncture as Palestine and Israel are in temporary truce. These moves highlight the most pressing issues and lay the foundation for the future solution of the Palestine issue. Experts hailed Wang's attendance at the meeting, as it shows that China has great sincerity to seek solution for the crisis.

However, even if Israel and Hamas agree to extend the truce for two more days, experts believe that the possibility of it becoming a long-term cease-fire is slim. As the crisis drags on, the US is sending signals to international community that there are divergences between US itself and Israel, in the hope that it will save itself from the current diplomatic pothole trying to continue pull over Arabic countries, so to contend against China's influence, said experts. 

On the Palestine-Israel conflict, China stands firmly on the side of peace, human conscience and international law, Wang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said in a meeting with Guterres in New York. 

China supports the UN and the secretary-general in playing their unique and irreplaceable role in resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict, Wang said, noting that China's position is clear. 

First, there should be no reignition of the war, he said. A complete cease-fire should be achieved to avoid greater humanitarian disasters, and the hostages should be released.

Second, unhindered access of humanitarian supplies to Gaza needs to be ensured, Wang said. And third, the two-state solution should be restarted at an early date.

Wang made the remarks before chairing a UN Security Council high-level meeting on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, which is scheduled for Wednesday. 

Wang also told Malaysian Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir on Tuesday that the UN's high-level meeting is held at a crucial juncture as it coincides with the last day of the temporary cease-fire agreement. We must not allow the resumption of hostilities and the infliction of further harm on innocent civilians. The conference should release a clear message regarding this matter.

Concerns remain 

Wang's propositions emphasize the most urgent issues at the current stage which is a complete cease-fire and the importance of humanitarian assistance; it also lays a foundation for a permanent solution to the crisis, Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. Liu noted that the high-level meeting, held during the temporary truce, may bring both sides one step closer to a complete cease-fire. 

Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their cease-fire for two more days on Monday, raising the prospect of further exchanges of militant-held hostages, according to a report from the Associated Press.

According to a UN Security Council report published on Tuesday, the State Council members are likely to welcome the pause in fighting and call for increased humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza during the high-level meeting. Some members may call on Israel to open its border crossings into Gaza to facilitate scaled-up humanitarian deliveries. 

However, experts believe such meeting may fail to reach concrete result in reaching a complete cease-fire agreement due to Israel's unwillingness to call a halt to its military actions. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear that Israeli Defense Forces will eventually restart military operations after the conclusion of the current, temporary cease-fire. Netanyahu visited his country's troops in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, three days into the pause in fighting, and vowed that "we are continuing until the end - until victory," The New York Times reported.

"Nothing will stop us," he said in a video statement in which he wore protective gear and was surrounded by Israeli soldiers.

Tian Wenlin, a research fellow at the Beijing-based China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Wednesday that Israel's intensity in pounding Gaza Strip after the cease-fire will be weaker than before, as previous military operations included important targets and it will come under mounting international pressure if more civilians are killed during future military activities.

Liu pointed out that resolving the issue of how the Gaza Strip moves forward will be a key point of argument after the conflict stops. "After the conflict dies down, international community will double down its efforts to push for implementation of the two-state solution, as the conflict has highlighted the urgency of this issue. However, who is going to lead the plan and on what basis should a solution be pushed remains to be determined by international community."

Growing divergencies between Israel and US

Netanyahu reportedly met with at least 10 backbenchers in his Likud party over the past week, during which he said: "I am the only one who will prevent a Palestinian state in Gaza and [the West Bank] after the war," The Times of Israel reported on Monday.

The stance clashes directly with the policy of the Joe Biden administration, which has sought to revive talk of a two-state solution in order to maintain the support of the Arab world.

As a signal that US is shifting away from President Biden's full-throated support at the outset for the campaign to oust Hamas, the US is pushing to have Israel fight a more targeted war, which is the focus of intensive consultations between Biden and Netanyahu on how to handle the conflict, the Wall Street Journal reported, noting that it is a result that Washington has worked with Arab allies to prevent from broadening beyond Gaza.

Tian said that it is a sign that Biden has bowed to increasing international and domestic pressure over its full-throated support for Israel. "The US' international image has been further tarnished by such support which also sowed discord among the US government,' said Tian.

US media reported that more than 500 political appointees and staff members representing some 40 government agencies sent a letter to Biden last week protesting his support of Israel in its war in Gaza.

Biden's posture on Israel has put it in opposition to the Arab world, which it badly needs to win over in order to contend against China and widen its international influence, said Tian. He explained that as the conflict between Israel and Palestine drags on, Washington's hope will vanish, thus Biden is sending a signal to the international community that there are divergencies between Israel and the US. He is betting on the gesture to get the US out of a diplomatic pothole, Tian said.