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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

2023-06-27 15:30

Madam President,

I thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland for his briefing just now. I also listened attentively to Dr. James Zogby's statement.

The Palestinian question is at the heart of the Middle East issue and bears on the lasting peace, stability, and security in the Middle East region. China has always been upholding fairness and justice on the Palestinian question, and has all along firmly supported the Palestinian people's just cause of restoring their legitimate national rights. On June 14, President Xi Jinping, during the meeting with the visiting President Abbas in China, stressed that the fundamental solution of the Palestine question lies in the establishment of an independent State of Palestine that enjoys full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. President Xi pointed out that Palestine’s economic and livelihood needs should be met and the international community needs to step up development assistance and humanitarian aid to Palestine. President Xi called for adherence to the right direction of peace talks, respect for the historical status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem, and avoidance of excessive and provocative words and actions. A larger scale, more authoritative, and more influential international peace conference should be convened, so as to create conditions for the resumption of peace talks and contribute concrete efforts to help Palestine and Israel to live in peace.

Madam President,

Last week, in the face of escalating tensions in the occupied Palestinian territory China, together with the UAE and France, facilitated the convening of urgent consultations at the Security Council on June 23. In connection with the briefing by the Special Coordinator just now, I wish to stress three points.

First, it is important to break the cycle of violence to pursue common security. The Secretary-General's report provided an alarming account of violence and Palestinian casualties in the occupied territory, as well as civilian casualties on the Israeli side. I wish to reiterate China's opposition to unilateral actions that exacerbate tensions in the occupied territory, all violence against civilians, as well as irresponsible provocation and incitement. The occupying power must fulfill its obligations under international humanitarian law and guarantee the security of people and their property in the occupied territory.

Palestine and Israel are neighbors that cannot be moved away from each other. No party should pursue absolute security at the expense of the security of another party, which is impossible both in theory and in reality. The international community must give equal attention to the legitimate security concerns of both sides and promote a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security. Both sides must be encouraged to achieve common security through dialogue and negotiation.

Second, it is important to uphold the international rule of law and stop unilateral actions to change the status quo. The construction of settlements in the occupied territory violates the international law and runs counter to the requirements of Security Council Resolution 2334. Israel recently approved amendments which could streamline and expedite the settlement approval process, and approved plans to build thousands of new settlement housing units, about which China expresses its concern. Every inch of settlements expansion represents a further squeeze on the living space of Palestine, a further encroachment on the land and resources of the occupied territory, and a further weakening of the two-State solution. We once again urge the cessation of all settlement activities and unilateral actions to change the status quo of the occupied territory.

Third, it is important to honor political commitments and advance the two-State solution. It should be noted that the crisis and instabilities in the occupied Palestinian territory today are rooted in the occupation and settlement expansion for over half a century and in the protracted stalemate of the Middle East peace process. The fundamental solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian question lies in the resumption of peace talks and the implementation of the two-State solution. The international community must always place the Palestinian question high on the international agenda and take practical steps to advance the two-State solution. The Security Council must demonstrate a sense of urgency and be prepared to take meaningful actions, assume its responsibilities under the UN Charter, and provide oversight and safeguards for the implementation of the political commitments.

China stands ready to work with the international community to actively contribute to a comprehensive, just, and lasting solution to the Palestinian question, the realization of the peaceful coexistence of Palestine and Israel, the common development of the Arab and Jewish peoples, and the lasting peace and stability of the Middle East at an early date.

Thank you, Madam President.

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