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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

2022-05-26 16:00

Madam President, 

I thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for his briefing I have listened attentively to the statements made by Mr. Daniel Munayer and Ms. Robi Damelin. 

During the past month, the security situation in the occupied Palestinian territory remained turbulent, with multiple clashes between Israeli security forces and the Palestinians, resulting in continued increase in Palestinian civilian casualties. Attacks against Israeli civilians also occurred from time to time. Religious believers in the occupied territory, be they Muslims or Jews, were unable to celebrate their religious holidays in peace and tranquility. The various factors contributing to the rising tensions between Palestine and Israel were brought into sharp relief to us recently. A number of these factors are still fermenting. We are extremely worried about this. The recent developments between the two sides have raised a red flag for the international community, and a call for well-tailored solutions. 

The current situation between Palestine and Israel once again testifies to the importance of upholding the status quo of the holy sites. Holy sites carry collective sentiments of religious believers, and have seen multiple incidents of bloodshed. China calls on all parties concerned to learn from history, jointly safeguard the historical status quo of religious sites, respect Jordan’s custodianship of the holy sites, and refrain from any unilateral action to change the status quo. The Jerusalem Day is just around the corner. We call on all parties concerned to exercise maximum restraint, and avoid conflict resurgence. 

The current situation between Palestine and Israel once again testifies to the importance of achieving common security. On May 11, the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed while covering Israeli security operations in the West Bank city of Jenin. The Security Council issued a press statement to strongly condemn the killing, and demand an immediate, thorough, transparent, impartial, and fair investigation. We note with concern the latest reports on this incident. We urge the relevant parties to carry out the investigation, and publish their conclusion without delay, as called for by the Council. 

We note with equal concern that yet another 16-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by Israel in the West Bank the day before yesterday. Every civilian killed by conflicts in the occupied territory would leave behind a broken family. The ever-rising civilian casualties only aggravate the animosity between Palestinians and Israelis, and undermine their mutual trust. Palestine and Israel are and will remain each other’s neighbor. They have a stake in each other security, and they should find a way to live side by side in harmony and shared security. The Israeli security forces should abide by the principle of proportionality in law enforcement, and should not use excessive force. 

The current situation between Palestine and Israel once again testifies to the importance of implementing international consensus. Building settlements in the occupied territory violates international law, disrupts the contiguity of the occupied Palestinian territory, and compromises the prospects of the two-state solution. China is concerned about Israel’s announcement of a new settlement construction plan, and urges Israel to stop all settlement activities as required by Council resolutions. A two-state solution is the fundamental way forward for achieving peace between Palestine and Israel, and this must be observed and implemented. Only by realizing this two-state solution and restoring the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, can we break the cycle of violence. The international community cannot substitute crisis management for a just solution on the question of Palestine. The relevant party with major influence on this question should uphold objectivity and impartiality, proceed from the fundamental interests of the Palestinian people and regional countries, and take practical steps to advance the Middle East peace process.

Madam President, 

Palestine is faced with existential and developmental challenges. The international community should take concrete actions to help Palestine fight the pandemic, develop their economy, and improve people’s livelihood, with a view to achieving economic independence at an early date. UNRWA has made positive contributions to improving the humanitarian conditions of Palestinian refugees. The international community should consolidate the political support for the agency, and effectively ease its financial stress. China’s COVID-19 vaccines, as an aid package to the agency, have recently arrived in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon for vaccinating Palestinian refugees in these three countries. 

I wish to conclude by reiterating China’s support for the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side in peace with Israel, and our support for the common development of the two peoples, Arabs and Jews. China will continue to play a constructive role alongside the international community towards an early settlement of the question of Palestine. 

Thank you, Madam President.

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