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

2023-10-30 17:00

Mr. President.

First of all, I would like to thank Brazil for organizing today's meeting upon the request of the UAE and China. I thank Executive Director Catherine Russell, Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, and Ms. Lisa Doughten for the briefings. Their briefings underscored once again the gravity of the situation in Gaza and the urgency for the Council to act.

Last Friday, the 10th emergency special session of the General Assembly adopted by an overwhelming majority a resolution calling for an immediate and durable humanitarian truce leading to the cessation of hostilities. This reflected the widespread call on the part of the international community. Regrettably and unacceptably however, Israel, turning a deaf ear to the common concerns of the international community, has chosen to further escalate its military operations in Gaza and formally declared the launch of a ground assault.

Secretary-General Guterres has warned that the population in Gaza is facing an “avalanche of human suffering”. Having one of the highest population density in the world, Gaza is a land that has been under siege for 16 years. The 2.3 million innocent people are living in utter fear amidst the indiscriminate bombardment and have been cut off from water, electricity, food, and fuel for 21 days. Just this past weekend, they experienced a communication blackout that lasted for nearly 36 hours. If left unchecked, the situation will spiral further out of control and an even greater humanitarian catastrophe will be inevitable.

We express our deep sympathy to the people in Gaza who are struggling on the brink of life and death. And we are also deeply worried about the Middle East peace process which is on the brink of collapse.

China solemnly calls on the parties to the conflict to cease all hostilities, disengage immediately, put in place a humanitarian truce, and make every effort to prevent the situation from escalating further.

China solemnly calls on Israel as the occupying power to fulfill its obligations under international humanitarian law, lift its full siege on Gaza, immediately rescind its emergency evacuation order, and expeditiously restore the supply of basic necessities so as to prevent an even larger humanitarian disaster.

China solemnly calls for greater diplomatic efforts to facilitate the release of hostages without delay and to work on this basis to open up space for dialogue, so as to return to the track of a political settlement.

China solemnly calls on a certain major country with special influence on the parties concerned to put aside its self interests and geopolitical considerations and make every effort to stop the war and restore peace.

Mr. President,

The decades-long history of the Palestinian-Israeli issue has taught us that military means is not the solution. Absolute security cannot be achieved by imposing collective punishment on civilians, and violence for violence will only exacerbate hatred and confrontation. We call on the parties to the conflict to abandon their blind faith in the use of force and to commit themselves to breaking the cycle of violence and achieving common security.

There will be no firewall in Gaza. It is a dangerous myth to think that a contained war is possible there. Allowing the fighting in Gaza to continue could very well turn it into a military catastrophe that will engulf the entire region. The situation in the West Bank and along the Lebanese-Israeli border has already sounded the alarm. We call on all parties who are concerned about the spillover of the conflict to devote their efforts towards promoting a ceasefire in Gaza.

As long as the war rages on, more violations of international humanitarian law are bound to happen. Without a comprehensive ceasefire, humanitarian assistance, no matter how much there is, will only be a drop in the ocean. What the people in Gaza need now is more than just the reiteration by the Council of the importance of international humanitarian law and unfulfilled promises of protection. What they need is concrete actions to restore peace, uphold the rule of law, and save lives.

The Council has so far held several meetings on the Palestinian-Israeli Situation. It cannot be said that there was no consensus at all. The resolution just adopted by the General Assembly has also pointed the Council in the right direction. In the face of the current critical situation, China once again solemnly calls on the Council to strengthen unity, build consensus, and take responsible and meaningful actions as soon as possible. We believe that so long as we focus on the most pressing issues such as a ceasefire and an end to the fighting, the protection of civilians, and the prevention of a larger humanitarian disaster, it is possible for members of this Council to reach consensus, and indeed this is what we should do. At this juncture, silence means acquiescence, and inaction is tantamount to a green light. The eyes of the world are upon us, and history will record our choice.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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