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

2023-02-20 15:40

Madam President, 

I thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland and Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth for their briefings. 

For some time now, the Palestinian-Israeli relations have continued to be tense. The unilateral actions by Israel keep escalating, pushing the situation to the brink of spinning out of control. We note with concern that the violence in the West Bank has been intensifying. Search and arrest operations, settler violence, and incidence of clashes and attacks have continued to cause serious civilian casualties, including children. The solemnity and sanctity of Jerusalem’s holy sites have been repeatedly violated, and the historic status quo has been frequently challenged. Provocative acts and inflammatory words of all kinds have continued to intensify conflict and confrontation. What’s more, Israel keeps advancing its settlement activities. And earlier this month, it announced its decision to legalize nine outposts and its plan to build 10,000 settlement units in the West Bank, causing widespread condemnation and concern. 

These negative developments run counter to the international law, UN Security Council resolutions, the repeated calls by all parties to deescalate the situation, and the efforts by the international community to preserve the Two-State solution. At this critical moment, Council members, upon the initiative of the UAE, conducted in the past few days intensive consultations on a draft resolution, and reached broad consensus. 

In the context of the Council working towards adopting a resolution, efforts of emergency diplomatic mediation were carried out. According to media reports, Israel promised yesterday that it would suspend unilateral actions that would undoubtedly undermine the prospect of the Two-State solution. It must be pointed out that the vitality of a diplomatic promise depends on its implementation. Now it’s definitely not the time to breathe a sigh of relief. The international community, including the countries with major influences, should keep their attention, increase the level of commitment, and play in earnest a constructive role to ensure that Israel does implement its promise on the ground. At the same time, more should be done. After the promised suspension, Israel should not conduct another round of unilateral activities. Instead, it should completely change its cause, and truly return to the right track of the Two-State solution. The presidential statement just adopted by the Council is an important step in managing the current crisis. It also shows the determination and readiness of the vast majority of Council members to uphold and implement the Two-State solution. China commends the leadership demonstrated by the UAE. The Council should be ready to take meaningful actions whenever necessary to shoulder its responsibilities enshrined in the Charter. 

Madam President, 

Just now, Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth introduced UNRWA’s work for Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian refugees represent one of the earliest, largest, and most protracted refugee situations in the world. The critical services delivered by the UNRWA, such as education, health care, and social assistance, have ensured the basic livelihood of the Palestinian refugees, demonstrating the international community’s solidarity with them, and fulfilling the international community’s common responsibility toward them. China fully recognizes and highly commends UNRWA’s work. 

In recent years, the alarm of fiscal crisis for UNRWA has been triggered time and again, which implies that the situation of the Palestinian refugees keeps getting worse and their humanitarian needs growing. We call on Israel to stop demolition of the homes and schools of the refugees and its blockade of the Gaza Strip, and cease creating trouble for UNRWA in fulfilling its mandate. 

Next year marks the 75th anniversary of UNRWA. The Agency’s work has been going on nonstop for over seven decades. This also means that the Palestinian question has yet to be solved after over seven decades. Faced with such protracted injustice and sufferings, the international community should conduct serious reflections and correct its mistakes without delay. Among other things, it should break away from piecemeal crisis management, and promote a comprehensive, just, and durable solution for the Palestinian question. 

The Palestinian people are eagerly waiting for the day when their homeland is no longer occupied, when an independent and sovereign state of Palestine lives side by side with Israel while enjoying common security and development. Making sure that the day comes as soon as possible is our common responsibility. 

Thank you, Madam President.

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