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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question

2022-02-23 12:15

Mr. President, 

At the outset, I would like to thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for his briefing. 

Entering the new year, the international community expects a new look for peace in the Middle East. Regrettably, however, since the beginning of the year, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory has remained tense, and the plight faced by the Palestinians has continued to deteriorate.

China is deeply concerned about the escalating Israeli settlement activities. The fate of families such as Salem in East Jerusalem has lately stuck at the heartstrings of many. It is estimated that in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan communities of East Jerusalem, 218 Palestinian families face the threat of forced eviction from their homes where they have lived for generations. Nearly 1,000 Palestinians live in fear every day, including 424 children. In 2021, the number of Palestinian structures demolished on the West Bank reached a new record since 2016. Settlement activities in the occupied territory violate international law. We urge Israel to stop evicting Palestinians, stop demolishing Palestinian homes, stop expanding settlements, and create conditions for the development of Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 

Equally worrying is the security situation in the occupied territory. Since the beginning of this year, Israeli military and police operations have caused many Palestinian casualties, seriously intensifying the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The escalating settler violence has continued to cause physical injuries and property loss to the Palestinians. We urge Israel to fulfill its obligations under international law, guarantee the safety and legitimate rights of the people in the occupied territory, and thoroughly investigate incidents of violence and human rights violations. We also call on parties concerned to stop inciting violence, refrain from provocative rhetoric and act, prevent the situation in Jerusalem from spiraling out of control, and consolidate the ceasefire in Gaza. 

Improving the Palestinian economy and livelihood is also a matter of urgency. The international community should provide assistance to Palestine through multiple channels to help it ease its financial crisis, ensure public services, fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and speed up reconstruction of Gaza. At present, China and Egypt are jointly donating 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Gaza Strip to help people fight the pandemic and improve the humanitarian situation on the ground. We must also pay attention to the situation of Palestinian refugees, and support UNRWA in carrying out its relief work. It is necessary to take a long-term perspective, strengthen the authority of the Palestinian Authority, and empower it in exercising its sovereign functions in such fields as security and finance. We support necessary coordination between Palestine and Israel in the economic and civil fields and reiterate our call to lift the blockade and siege of Gaza as soon as possible. 

Mr. President, 

Secretary-General Guterres said earlier this month that the piecemeal approaches to the question of Palestine will only ensure that the underlying issues perpetuating the conflict remain unaddressed. The international community must not lose sight of the long-sought goal of ending the occupation and realizing the two-state solution, and should take urgent actions and step up collective efforts. 

We fully endorse the view of the Secretary-General. We expect Palestine and Israel to maintain the positive momentum of the recent high-level contact, gradually build up mutual trust, and resume dialogue on an equal footing and at an early date for achieving the two-state solution. We hope that all Palestinian factions will strengthen unity, and achieve internal reconciliation through dialogue and consultation. We support broader, more effective peace efforts by the United Nations, the League of Arab States, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. And we expect that the Security Council will show greater responsibility. 

Mr. President, 

China supports the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and supports the peaceful coexistence of Palestine and Israel and the common development of the Arab and Jewish peoples. China is ready to work with the international community to promote a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question, so that the security, stability, development and prosperity in the Middle East can be achieved at an early date. 

I thank you, Mr. President.

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