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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

2023-04-26 11:00

Mr. President, 

I am honored to participate in this meeting as representative of Mr. Qin Gang, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China. I would like to begin by thanking Foreign Minister Lavrov for presiding over this meeting. I thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for his briefing. I also welcome the presence of Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine His Excellency Riad Malki to today’s meeting. The series of problems he mentioned in his statement pointed to the essence of the persistently elusive settlement of the Palestinian issue. The international community should give good attention to this and earnestly reflect on this. 

Mr. President, 

Muslims around the world have just celebrated Eid al-Fitr. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my cordial greetings to our many Muslim friends, brothers, and sisters who celebrate this holiday. Regrettably, however, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory has become nerve-racking for the whole world during Ramadan over the past few years. Violence in the West Bank has intensified with frequent tensions in East Jerusalem and Gaza. The international community can not become accustomed to this, and cannot let it go unchecked. Instead, more must be invested in promoting a comprehensive, just, and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question with the greatest sense of urgency. 

First, we must oppose violence and incitement, and seek common security. Over the past month, Israeli forces and police have many times raided Al-Aqsa Mosque, beating and removing Muslims, shattering the peace and tranquility of Ramadan, and triggering new tensions. China condemns all acts of violence against civilians, and calls on all parties to exercise calm and restraint, and put an end to all radical and provocative statements and actions. Palestine and Israel are neighbors that cannot be moved away from each other. The security of one party cannot be based on the insecurity of the other. In order to fundamentally break the cycle of violence and establish lasting peace, equal attention must be given to the legitimate security concerns of both sides, who must be encouraged to achieve common security through dialogue and negotiation. 

Second, we must stop unilateral actions to change the status quo, and earnestly uphold international rule of law. Settlement activity in the occupied territory is illegal. Since the beginning of the year, Israel has continued to pursue unilateral actions on approving returns, building new settlements, and legalizing settlements, encroaching on Palestinian land and resources, squeezing the living space of the Palestinian people, and making a territorially contiguous, independent, and sovereign state of Palestine even more elusive. We urge Israel to comply with the demands of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, and effectively cease all settlement activities. It also needs to be pointed out that unilateral measures to change the status quo of Jerusalem are null and void. China calls for earnest respect for the historical status quo at the holy sites of Jerusalem and for Jordan’s custodianship over them. 

Third, people’s livelihoods must be guaranteed, and Palestinian economic development must be promoted. The prolonged occupation and frequent instability have severely constrained the viability of the Palestinian economy and led to the worsening situation for Palestinians. Israel should cease and lift unreasonable restrictions on the movement of people and goods as well as on land use in the occupied territory, create conditions for the development of Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip as soon as possible. The international community should also provide assistance to Palestine through multiple channels to help Palestine alleviate its financial crisis and ensure its provision of public services. China will continue to do what we can to provide humanitarian and development assistance to Palestine, and increase our support for the work of UNWRA. 

Fourth, we must adhere to the two-State solution and promote the resumption of peace talks. Facts have repeatedly shown that piecemeal crisis management is hard to be sustainable and it is even less of a substitute for a comprehensive and just solution. Saudi Arabia and Iran recently resumed diplomatic relations through dialogue, setting an example for diffusing differences through dialogue. On other Middle East issues, positive developments of dialogue and reconciliation are also in the making. It is never too late to do the right thing. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang recently had separate phone calls with Palestinian and Israeli Foreign Ministers. He conveyed that China encourages Israel and Palestine to show political courage and take steps towards resuming peace talks on the basis of the two-State solution. China is willing to facilitate such endeavors. We expect the international community to increase coordination, take substantive steps, and make unremitting efforts to promote the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli talks and implement the two-State solution. 

I thank you, Mr. President.

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