|Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question|
I would like to thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland for his briefing and appreciate his efforts in deescalating the situation. I also thank the UAE and other countries for their initiative of convening today’s meeting.
Yesterday afternoon, Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad put a pause on the fierce clashes in the Gaza Strip over the past few days by reaching a ceasefire agreement. Egypt, Qatar, Jordan and other regional countries have played a key role in reaching the ceasefire through mediation and promoting talks. Special Coordinator Wennesland has also carried out fruitful endeavors in this regard. All these efforts are highly appreciated by China.
The current situation on the ground remains very fragile. Undoubtedly, the Security Council is duty-bound to pay close attention to the situation and to prevent its further escalation. Reaching a ceasefire agreement is only the beginning. The key to a ceasefire and stopping violence lies in the implementation. Relevant diplomatic efforts should continue, and parties with influence should continue to play their roles in urging parties to the conflict to earnestly observe the ceasefire and exercise restraint, so that calmness can be restored in Gaza as soon as possible.
The clashes in the past few days has killed 41 Palestinians and injured more than 300, among the dead were 15 children, the youngest of whom was only five years old. This is heartbreaking and saddening. Civilians were also injured on the Israeli side. China condemns indiscriminate attacks on civilians and disproportionate use of force as well as grave violations against children. The protection of civilians and civilian facilities in armed conflicts is an international obligation that must be fulfilled. There should be no exceptions or blind spots. The security of Israel and Palestine is indivisible. We should pay equal attention to the legitimate security concerns of both sides, break the cycle of violence, and achieve common security.
Relevant military operations have also led to the destruction of a large number of houses, infrastructure and the disruption of power supplies in the Gaza Strip, further aggravating the plight of the people in Gaza. The international community should speed up the humanitarian response, increase support for the recovery and reconstruction of Gaza, and spare no efforts to prevent large scale humanitarian disasters. We call for the immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza and an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
The situation in Gaza is closely related to that of the West Bank. We are deeply concerned about the tense situation around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in recent days. We call on all parties concerned to learn from history, to effectively safeguard the historic status quo of the religious holy sites in Jerusalem, to respect Jordan's custodianship of the holy sites, to avoid any unilateral act of changing the historic status quo, and to prevent violence, threats and provocations against Muslims. The international community should not only prevent a crisis in Gaza from spreading to the West Bank, but also prevent the frictions in East Jerusalem from rekindling the war in Gaza and turning it into a conflict of larger scope and intensity.
Over the past year or so, the Security Council have held several emergency meetings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, problems and crises continue to emerge unabated. The root causes for the upheavals in the Palestinian and Israeli situation are that the Middle East peace process has deviated from the right track. The foundation of the two-state solution has been eroded. The UN resolutions have not been followed through effectively. And the Palestinian people’s right to independence and statehood has been repeatedly violated.
Facts have proven time and time again that piecemeal crisis management cannot replace a comprehensive and just settlement, limited economic and humanitarian measures cannot erase political and security debts, and individual national policies cannot replace long established international consensus and multilateral process. The international community must take a long-term perspective, tackle the root causes of the problem, conduct diplomatic efforts with a sense of urgency, reverse the negative trends on the ground, revive the peace process as soon as possible, and take substantive steps to advance the two-state solution, so that the Palestinian people can fully enjoy their rights, and the comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question can be achieved at an early date. The Council should carefully heed the voices of the Palestinian people, adopt effective measures against all disruptions, and bring hope and justice back to the people of Palestine.