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Statement by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the United Nations General Assembly on the Situation in Middle East

2021-05-20 04:15

Madam President,

In the last couple of weeks, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has escalated to its most severe state in recent years. China expresses grave concerns over the development and urges the international community to take urgent actions to end the current crisis and prevent the situation from falling out of control across the board. The Security Council bears the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Since the outbreak of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict this time, as President of the Council for this month, China has worked closely with Council members, overcome difficulties, held four Council meetings and proposed a draft press president statement to urge parties to cease hostilities and ease the tensions as soon as possible. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on May 16 presided over a Council's open emergency meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to stay committed to the Council's role to end the current crisis. Both Palestine and Israel, and relevant regional organizations and countries attended the meeting. The meeting sent out a strong message. A great majority of Council members called for the immediate cessation of hostilities, demanded civilian protection measures, supported a just solution to the question of Palestine on the basis of the two-State solution, and supported the Council in fulfilling its Charter duties. China commends the great majority of Council members for their efforts and urges the relevant member to demonstrate its sense of responsibility. Despite the difficulties, China will continue to support the Council in taking actions, remaining united and speaking with one voice, so as to work with the international community in an unremitting, unrelenting effort to end the current crisis, and find a just solution to the Palestinian question. In view of the current situation, China has the following proposals:

First, cease hostilities and violence immediately to avoid more civilian casualties. Days of conflicts have caused heavy casualties of Palestinian civilians, including many women and children, some as young as several months old. There are also casualties among Israeli civilians. These are all very saddening. Use of Force cannot produce a fundamental solution. To pay violence for violence will only beget more hatred. China condemns all violence against civilians, opposes all violence-inciting rhetoric and calls for the immediate end of hostilities and violence. Israel in particular should exercise restraint. Facts, however, repeatedly shown that no so-called precise strike can avoid civilian casualties. China supports the United Nations, relevant regional organizations and countries in their diplomatic and mediation efforts for an early ceasefire.

Second, earnestly implement UN resolutions and protect the legitimate rights and interests of Palestinian people. Building settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territories in violation of international law gravely undermines the prospects of a two-State solution. The issue of settlement is a core topic for the negotiations on the final status of the Palestinian question. It must be properly solved before the two sides can improve mutual trust and the Middle East process can break free from a vicious cycle. China calls on Israel, in line with the UN resolutions, to stop building settlements on the occupied Palestinian land, stop eviction of Palestinian families, halt the demolition of Palestinian houses, suppress violence against the Palestinians, and earnestly protect legitimate rights and interests of Palestinian people in the occupied territories. The historical status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City must be maintained and respected.

Third, take robust measures to prevent humanitarian disasters. The mutually-compounding effects of conflict, pandemic and blockade have further aggravated the very fragile humanitarian situation in Gaza, as reflected in power shortage, lack of medical resources and mass displacement of civilians. China calls upon conflict parties to observe international humanitarian law, stop attacking civilian facilities, especially hospitals and schools, and cease military operations in civilian areas. Israel should lift the blockade on Gaza and facilitate the access of humanitarian supplies to the area immediately. The conflict has led to the destruction of many civilian houses in Gaza. The international community should step up support for reconstruction in Gaza and relieve hardships of the local people.

Fourth, redouble the efforts to promote peace talks, and a two-State solution. The root causes of the repeated eruption of conflict between Palestine and Israel is the fact that the Middle East peace process has been off track and UN resolutions are not effectively implemented. Particularly, Palestine’s right to independent statehood has been persistently infringed upon, and the two-State solution is yet a reality on the ground. 70 years on, an independent state remains an unrealized dream for Palestinian people. China supports all efforts conducive to the realization of the two-State solution. To this end, the international community, especially countries with influence on the parties, should play an active role. As a sincere friend of the Palestinian people, China firmly supports Palestine’s just demand and the establishment of a fully sovereign, independent Palestinian state by its people on the basis of 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. China will continue to make efforts for this endeavor.

Thank you, Madam President.

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