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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

2024-02-22 15:30

Madam President, 

I thank the two briefers for their briefings. We were left appalled by Mr. Christopher Lockyear’s briefing. We hope the tragic picture in Gaza that he painted for us can touch the conscience of a certain member of this Council.

The veto by the United States two days ago meant that the Council missed yet another opportunity to push for a ceasefire in Gaza. The continuation of the conflict even for another day would cause even more civilian casualties and lead to a greater catastrophe. An immediate ceasefire in Gaza is an urgent imperative to save innocent lives and to prevent a wider war. An immediate ceasefire is the common wish voiced by the international community and the consensus of the Council’s overwhelming majority. We are aware that the United States has tabled a new draft resolution. We hope the US will show a responsible attitude, respond positively to the international voice, and respect the established consensus among Council members. 

We need to point out that the essence of any action of this Council is to achieve an immediate ceasefire. Any message sent out via our action must be clear, unequivocal, unambiguous, and unmistakable, rather than prevaricate or beat about the bush. At this point, the Council needs to demonstrate a strong resolve rather than negotiating skills only.

Madam President, 

More than four months have passed since the conflict in Gaza began. It is the bounden duty of this Council to slam on the brakes to head off a greater calamity. 

The military offensive into Rafah must cease immediately. Over 1.5 million Gazans are packed into Rafah having nowhere else to go. Escalated Israeli military incursions into Rafah will result in unthinkable civilian casualties and humanitarian disasters and cause irreparable damage to regional peace. We strongly oppose such actions. Israel should immediately cancel its plan to attack Rafah and halt its collective punishment of the Palestinian people. The International Court of Justice requires that the provisional measures issued to prevent genocide be effectively implemented without delay. 

It is imperative to ensure sufficient unimpeded humanitarian deliveries into Gaza. As said by the Director General of WHO, Gaza is becoming a death zone. Millions of people in Gaza lack the basic necessities for survival and are languishing in hunger, in disease, and in despair. Meanwhile, humanitarian relief is hampered by man-made barriers, so much so that it is becoming unsustainable. The WFP announced that it had been forced to suspend its assistance to Northern Gaza because of security threats. Right now, Security Council Resolutions 2712 and 2720 must be fully implemented. Israel must take concrete action to open all land, sea, and air routes into Gaza, provide all that is required by humanitarian agencies for their relief operations, and ensure the safety and security of the staff and facilities of humanitarian agencies. UNRWA plays a vital role that is indispensable and irreplaceable in alleviating the humanitarian plight in Gaza. We call on the donors concerned to resume funding to UNRWA as soon as possible out of humanitarian considerations to keep the lifeline for the people of Gaza alive. All parties should give their full support to the work of Sigrid Kaag, UN senior humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza. 

Every effort must be made to prevent the conflict from spilling over to the wider region. Right now, the Middle East is in turmoil. Exchanges of fire between Lebanon and Israel and between Syria and Israel are escalating. Tensions in the Red Sea are continuing. And the specter of the wider war is looming over the Middle East. We call on the parties concerned, especially those with significant influence, to exercise calm and restraint and to refrain from acts that would aggravate the tensions. Parties should endeavor to stop war through peace and break the vicious circle of violence and conflict. 

The political horizon offered by the two-State solution must be given a new lease on life. Independent Palestinian statehood is not a gift given by one party to another in charity, but an inalienable right of the Palestinian people as a nation. We are gravely concerned by the recent repeated public dismissal of the two-State solution by some Israeli politicians and their rejection of any international effort towards independent Palestinian statehood. Gaza is an inalienable part of Palestine, and the two-State solution is the bottom line of international justice and the only viable path towards the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli issue. China urges Israel to stop without delay eroding the foundation of the two-State solution, halt the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, and cease the searches, arrests, and raids in the West Bank. The historical wrongs suffered by Palestine must be righted. Palestine’s long aspiration for independent statehood must be fulfilled. China supports Palestine in becoming a member of the United Nations as soon as possible and calls for the convening of a larger, more authoritative, and more effective international peace conference to push for a comprehensive, just, and lasting solution to the question of Palestine. 

Thank you, President.

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