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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at Security Council Open Debate on Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question

2022-01-19 18:35

Madam President, 

I welcome you, Minister Huitfeldt for chairing today’s meeting, and I thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for his briefing. I also listened carefully to the statements by the two representatives of EcoPeace.

Madam President, 

This year marks the 75th year that the question of Palestine has been put on the UN agenda. The new year should bring new hope to the Palestinian people, and the international community should act with stronger sense of urgency by taking vigorous actions to promote the comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian issue.

First, violence and hostilities must be stopped and tensions eased. Last year saw continued unrest in the occupied Palestinian territory, with 324 Palestinians killed in hostilities and violence. There were also civilian casualties on the Israeli side. Since the new year, the situation on the ground has continued to be tense and worrying. We call on all parties concerned to keep calm, exercise restraint, refrain from hostilities and violence, and consolidate the ceasefire in Gaza. As the occupying power, Israel must fulfill its obligations under international law, guarantee the safety of the people in the occupied territory, investigate violence against Palestinian civilians, and maintain the historical status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Israel’s legitimate security concerns must be respected.

Second, Council resolutions must be implemented and settlement activities must stop. In 2021, Jewish settlement in the West Bank continued to expand, and the number of demolished Palestinian homes was the highest since 2016. Settlement activities in the occupied territories violate international law. We urge Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes, stop evicting Palestinians and expanding settlements, and create conditions for the development of Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

We are equally concerned about Israel’s recent announcement that it will invest more than 300 million dollars in settlement construction in the Golan. The international community recognizes Syria’s sovereignty over the Golan. China urges Israel to stop settlement activities that could lead to tensions.

Third, the economy and people’s livelihoods should receive attention and humanitarian assistance should be scaled up. At present, Palestine is in deep economic and financial crisis. The humanitarian situation is worrying and people are living a difficult life. The international community should step up its support, enhance the authority of the Palestinian National Authority, empower it to exercise its sovereign functions in the fields of security and finance, and provide basic public services. China appreciates the efforts by Egypt, Qatar and other regional countries for the recovery and reconstruction of Gaza, and calls on all parties to strengthen financial support to UNRWA. We have taken note of the measures recently taken by Israel such as transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian side, and we hope this will help restore Palestinian-Israeli coordination in economic and civil fields. China once again calls on Israel to lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Fourth, all efforts should be mobilized to promote peace and implement the two-state solution. History and reality have repeatedly proved that the two-state solution is the only viable way to resolve the Palestinian issue. The international community should uphold an objective and fair approach, advocate tolerance and mutual understanding, and do more for the resumption of dialogue between the two sides based on the two-state solution. We hope that the two sides will take the recent high-level contacts as an opportunity to gradually build mutual trust and continue to build momentum. We expect Palestinian factions to strengthen solidarity, achieve internal reconciliation through consultations and dialogue, and form a unified negotiating position. We look forward to fruitful results from the upcoming dialogue in Algeria. We support the UN, LAS, OIC and countries with important influence in playing a more active role and call for the holding of an international peace conference under the auspices of the UN and with the participation of all the permanent members of the Security Council and all stakeholders in the Middle East peace process, so as to pool our efforts for peace.

Just now the two briefers from EcoPeace talked about the efforts in coordinating regional environmental protection and climate change response. Such efforts to enhance mutual trust between Palestine and Israel through practical cooperation merit our recognition and encouragement. That said, the root cause of the Palestinian question is Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. And the fundamental way out is to earnestly implement the two-state solution. The Council and the wider international community should grasp the key and fundamental issue of the Middle East peace process. Otherwise, we would be attending the trifles while neglecting the essentials.

Madam President, 

Here I would like to reiterate that China supports the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent state of Palestine based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, and supports the peaceful coexistence of Palestine and Israel and the common development of the Arab and Jewish peoples. China will continue to work relentlessly with the international community towards the early settlement of the Palestinian issue. 

I thank you, Madam President.

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