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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Emergency Briefing on the Palestinian-Israeli Situation

2023-10-18 13:00

Mr. President,

I wish to thank Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths and Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland for their briefings. I wish to particularly commend Special Coordinator Wennesland for his tireless efforts in actively engaging with all parties to deescalate the conflict and prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Together with the UAE and the Russian Federation, China also requested this emergency meeting. The attack on Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians. China is shocked by this heinous attack, and strongly condemns it. The protection of civilians in armed conflict is a red line under international humanitarian law. Civilians and civilian facilities such as hospitals and schools should not and must not be targeted in military operations. The indiscriminate use of force is not acceptable. And the safety of humanitarian and medical workers must be guaranteed. We urge Israel to effectively fulfill its obligations under international humanitarian law.

Look around in Gaza nowadays, tragedies like the one at Al-Ahli Hospital are unfolding all the time. As a result of the total siege imposed by Israel, the supply of water, electricity, and fuel in the Gaza Strip has been cut off. The basic supplies such as food and medicine are dwindling and urgently needed. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to move South because of the emergency evacuation order issued by Israel, only to suffer from airstrikes in the South as well. From the North to the South, Gaza is full of frightened children and desperate mothers.

Under the current circumstances, there is no time to lose in protecting the safety of civilians, carrying out humanitarian relief, and preventing a humanitarian crisis. We call on Israel to lift the full blockade on Gaza, retrieve the emergency evacuation order, and stop the airstrikes around the Rafah crossing. We welcome the international community's efforts to open a humanitarian corridor and look forward to substantive progress in the relevant communications and arrangements as soon as possible. We appreciate the important role played by Egypt and other regional countries.

Mr. President,

Developments over the past few days have amply demonstrated that an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire must be the overriding priority. As long as the war continues, more violations of international humanitarian law are inevitable. Without a comprehensive ceasefire, any amount of humanitarian assistance will be a drop in the bucket. If the current fight in Gaza is allowed to drag on, the end result will not be a complete military victory for any side, but rather most likely will be a catastrophe that will engulf the entire region, that will probably completely end the prospect for the two-State solution, plunging the Palestinian and Israeli peoples into a vicious cycle of hatred and confrontation.

Arab countries have issued a strong call for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. The international community should heed this just call of Arab countries and the Palestinian people, and unite all diplomatic efforts towards this goal. China welcomes any initiative that is conducive to easing the humanitarian crisis and reducing the suffering of civilians, and support all efforts aimed at deescalating the conflict and restoring peace. We hope that all parties concerned will maintain impartiality, actively leverage their influence on the parties concerned, promote calm and restraint, and work for the cessation of hostilities as soon as possible.

Under the current circumstances, all diplomatic efforts should work to send a unified signal.

First, there are no winners in wars. Violence for violence will only lead to more serious crises. There must be an immediate ceasefire. It is imperative to abandon military means and return to the track of dialogue and negotiation.

Second, any violence and attacks against civilians should be rejected. Both the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples have the right to be free from fear and their security should be equally protected.

Third, international humanitarian law must be followed. The basic needs of the people in Gaza must be ensured. The humanitarian corridor must be opened immediately. And the hostages must be released.

Fourth, the fundamental solution to the Palestinian question lies in the implementation of the two-State solution. It is important to, based on relevant UN resolutions and other international consensus, achieve a comprehensive, just, and lasting settlement, so that Palestine and Israel can live side by side in peace.

Mr. President,

The Security Council bears the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. In the face of the continuous spread of conflict and the increasingly imminent humanitarian disaster, the Security Council has no reason to remain silent and no excuse to delay further. China does not agree with the claim that the Security Council’s actions will interfere with the ongoing diplomatic efforts. Although the draft resolutions proposed by Russia and Brazil have not been adopted, the Security Council cannot stop at this.

China expects all members of the Security Council to face up to their responsibilities under the Charter, respond to the expectations of the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples and the international community, move forward in unity, build consensus, and make binding decisions on the current crisis that will stand the test of history and conscience. China will continue to work with the international community to play a constructive role for the ceasefire and the cessation of hostilities, the protection of civilians, the prevention of further humanitarian crisis, and the realization of a comprehensive, just, and lasting solution to the question of Palestine.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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