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End the Fighting and Violence Immediately and
Uphold Equity and Justice

2021-05-17

Remarks by H.E. Wang Yi
State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China
At the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on
"The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question"

Beijing, 16 May 2021

Mr. Secretary-General,
Colleagues,

I thank Secretary-General António Guterres and Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland for their briefings. I listened attentively to the statements by the Palestinian Foreign Minister, the Israeli Permanent Representative to the UN, and Foreign Ministers of Egypt and Jordan. I welcome the representatives of Algeria and the League of Arab States to today's open debate.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has kept escalating in recent days. It has caused heavy casualties, including women and children. The situation is dangerous and urgent, and it calls for an immediate ceasefire and stop of violence. The international community must take actions right away and make every effort to avert further deterioration of the situation, prevent the region from backsliding into turbulence, and protect lives in local communities.

Colleagues,

The Palestinian question remains at the heart of the Middle East issue. Without stability in the Middle East, there can hardly be tranquility in the world. Only when the Palestinian question is resolved in a comprehensive, just and durable manner can lasting peace and common security be truly realized in the Middle East. In light of the current tensions, China would like to propose the following:

First, a ceasefire and stop of violence is the most pressing task. The use of force cannot bring peace or tranquility, and violence only sows more seeds of hatred. China strongly condemns violence against civilians, and we once again urge the parties of the conflict to immediately cease military actions and hostilities and stop such moves as airstrikes, ground offensives and rocket launches that aggravate the situation. It is important that Israel exercise restraint, earnestly observe the relevant UN resolutions, stop the demolition of Palestinian homes and the eviction of the Palestinian people, discontinue its settlement expansion, put an end to the violence, threats and provocations against Muslims, and maintain and respect the historical status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Palestine needs to avoid taking steps that may further escalate the situation, avert civilian casualties, and work with other parties for an immediate de-escalation of the situation.

Second, humanitarian assistance is urgently needed. The concurrence of the COVID pandemic and the conflicts and turbulence has made the humanitarian crisis all the more challenging for the region. The situation in the Gaza Strip is particularly worrisome. We urge Israel to earnestly fulfill its obligations under international law, promptly and fully lift blockade on and besiege of Gaza, ensure the safety and rights of the civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory, and facilitate the access of humanitarian assistance. The international community should extend humanitarian aid to Palestine via multiple channels, and continue to support the work of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in an effort to improve the humanitarian situation in Palestine. The United Nations needs to coordinate the planning of the international humanitarian emergency relief, and make utmost efforts to prevent a humanitarian disaster from happening.

Third, international support is a due obligation. The Security Council, shouldering the primary responsibility for safeguarding international peace and security, must take strong actions on the Palestine-Israel conflict, reiterate its firm support for the two-state solution, and do more to cool down the situation as soon as possible. China has been working with the relevant countries to draft a Security Council press statement. Regrettably, however, the Security Council has not been able to speak in one voice till today because of the obstruction by one single country. We call upon the United States to shoulder its due responsibilities, take a just position and, together with the majority of the international community, support the Security Council in easing the situation, rebuilding trust and advancing political settlement. We also support a more active role by the UN, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Countries and countries with important influence in the region so as to help galvanize more broad-based and effective efforts for peace.

Fourth, the two-state solution is the fundamental way forward. Recent years have seen a derailment of the Middle East peace process. The relevant UN resolutions have not been effectively implemented. In particular, Palestine's right to establish an independent state has been persistently undermined, and the suffering of the Palestinian people further deepened, leading to the crisis we see today. What has happened proves once again that an enduring settlement can only be achieved on the basis of the two-state solution. The Palestine-Israel issue has been on the agenda of the UN for more than 70 years. Generations of Palestinians have waited, year after year, for the restoration of their legitimate national right, which still remains elusive. Justice is already running late, but it must not be forever absent. China supports a resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel on the basis of the two-state solution as soon as possible. China supports the early establishment of an independent state of Palestine that enjoys full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders and with east Jerusalem as its capital. This is the way to fundamentally achieve peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel, harmony between the Arab and Jewish peoples, and enduring peace in the Middle East.

Colleagues,

China is a sincere friend of the Palestinian people. We have all along followed the Middle East peace process with concern, and remained a staunch force for justice and fairness and for all efforts conducive to de-escalation. The current situation has further highlighted the significance of the four-point proposal on the Palestinian question put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2017. Since assuming the rotating presidency of the Council, China has attached particular importance to the current tensions in the Middle East and has facilitated multiple rounds of deliberations on the Palestinian question. China will double down on our efforts to promote peace talks and earnestly perform our duty as the Council President. We reaffirm our invitation to Palestinian and Israeli peace advocates to continue their dialogue in China, and welcome representatives of the two sides to come to China for direct negotiations.

Every turbulence in Palestine-Israel relations sounds the alarm for international rule of law, tests multilateral cooperation, and weighs on human conscience. Will the United Nations and its Security Council step forward and do what they should? People across the world are watching, and history is keeping account. We should and must stand in solidarity for peace and justice, for equity and conscience, and on the right side of history. We must practice true multilateralism and strive for an early, comprehensive, just and enduring settlement of the Palestinian question.

Thank you.

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