|Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question|
I thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland, Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, and Mr. Daniel Levy for their briefings. Their views and recommendations have served as useful inspiration for the work of the Security Council.
For the past month, the volatile situation in the occupied Palestinian territory have been stirring the nerves of the whole world. The conflict in Gaza have led to hundreds of civilian casualties and massive damage to the infrastructure, once again pushing the situation to the brink of war and plunging the people of Gaza into fear and a life in dire straits. We appreciate the active mediation by Egypt, Qatar, Jordan and other regional countries and Special Coordinator Wennesland for reaching a ceasefire. It is imperative to promote the effective observance of the ceasefire by all parties and exercise of restraint, so that the situation in Gaza will promptly and fully returned to calm. Diplomatic efforts on all fronts should continue.
During the conflict, UNRWA and other humanitarian agencies have overcome many difficulties, actively carried out humanitarian operations, and provided the people in Gaza with emergency relief and aid. China highly appreciates this. The path of recovery and reconstruction of Gaza is a tortuous and long one. The international community should accelerate its humanitarian response, offer assistance to Palestine through multiple channels, and provide strong support for UNRWA. We call on Israel to facilitate the entry of humanitarian and reconstruction supplies into Gaza and to promptly and fully lift its blockade on Gaza.
Frequent incidents of violence on the West Bank are a cause for concern. China condemns all indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the OPT and the grave violations against children, opposes the excessive use of force by security forces, and calls for investigations into and accountability for those incidents of violence. Over 100 days have passed since female journalist Shireen Abu Akleh from Al Jazeera was shot dead. Yet there is still no credible explanation for the cause of the incident. For years, the civil society organizations of Palestine have played a vital role in helping vulnerable populations including women and children, improving the humanitarian situation the OPT, and upholding the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The recent actions by Israel against multiple Palestinian civil society organizations have caused widespread worries among the international community. We call on Israel to earnestly respond to the concerns of the international community.
The status quo in the OPT is not sustainable. The international community must rise above piecemeal crisis management, face squarely the root causes, take effective actions, and promote an early return of the settlement of the Palestinian question to the right track.
First, encouraging Palestine and Israel to pursue common security. Israel and Palestine are and will remain neighbors. Their security is interdependent and indivisible. Seeking absolute security of one side, taking unilateral actions, and basing in one’s own security on the insecurity of the other will only aggravate mistrust, heighten tensions, and trap them in an endless cycle of violence. The international community should attach equal importance to the security concerns of both Palestine and Israel, and encourage both sides to find the greatest common denominator through dialogue and cooperation to achieve common security. At the same time, the occupying power should effectively fulfill its obligations under international law to protect the safety of the people in the occupied territories.
Second, promptly reversing the negative trends on the ground. The continued expansion of settlement activities encroaches upon Palestinian land, swallows up Palestinian resources, and violates Palestine’s right to self determination, making a contiguous, independent and sovereign state of Palestine more out of reach with each passing day. Every inch of settlement expansion adds a new obstacle for the two-state solution. We call for immediate cessation of all settlement activities, the stopping of unilateral changes to the status quo in the OPT, and demarcating the final borders between Palestine and Israel through peaceful negotiations.
Third, advancing the two-state solution on all fronts. The Palestinian question has been dragging on for over 70 years. Generations of Palestinian refugees have lost their homes and suffered from displacement, countless Palestinian children have been deprived of hope and future. What is lacking in the settlement of the Palestinian question are not grand plans or loud slogans, but the courage to stand up for justice and actions to fulfill commitments. Whether the UN and Security Council are responsible and dare to act is being followed by the international community and recorded by history. It is imperative to muster a sense of urgency, take substantive steps to advance the two-state solution, and support the Palestinian people in restoring and exercising their inalienable rights, so as to fundamentally achieve peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel, harmony between the Arab and Jewish peoples, and lasting peace in the Middle East.