Upholding International Fairness and Justice and Advancing the Middle East Peace Process
– Statement by H.E. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, at the Security Council Open VTC on the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question
24 June 2020
China welcomes this Open VTC of the Security Council on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
The question of Palestine, still unresolved after 70-plus years, continues to challenge human conscience and international justice. Despite flare-ups of other regional hotspots, the Palestinian question remains at the heart of the Middle East situation. Its just, equitable settlement is a prerequisite for lasting peace and security in the region.
Recently, the persistent tension between Palestine and Israel has put the peace process in jeopardy and heightened the risk of regional conflicts. This development is deeply unsettling. Such a situation has further highlighted the significance of the four-point proposal on the Palestinian question put forth by President Xi Jinping in 2017. Building on this proposal, I wish to emphasize the following four points:
First, international consensus must not be contravened. The two-state solution is a bottom line of international justice, on which there should be no backtracking. China supports the 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 an inalienable right of the Palestinian people, one that cannot be compromised or bargained away. At the same time, Israel’s right to survival and legitimate security concerns should be fully respected. Relevant UN resolutions, the “land for peace” principle and the two-state solution set out the overall direction of the final settlement, and embody the wisdom and hard work of several generations of people. They are important milestones in the Middle East peace process, and more importantly, the very foundation for resolving the Palestinian question. As such, they should be duly observed and reaffirmed.
Second, peace talks must not be abandoned. Palestine and Israel are and will remain each other’s neighbor. Seeking one’s own absolute security with unilateral actions will only aggravate tensions and undermine mutual trust. The only viable way is for Palestine and Israel to resume dialogues on an equal footing as soon as possible in order to rebuild trust, deescalate disputes and work out a way to live in peace as neighbors. The issue of settlements is a key item of the final status talks. The Security Council has long made it clear that the establishment of those settlements constitutes violation under international law. The question of occupied territories in the West Bank should be resolved as early as possible based on relevant UN resolutions, and the final Palestine-Israel border delineated through peace talks. China calls on all relevant parties to remain committed to the strategic choice of peace talks, cherish the outcomes of previous talks, and refrain from actions that may intensify tensions between Palestine and Israel.
Third, international support must not slacken. The Palestinian question, instead of being marginalized, should remain front and center of the international agenda. The global community, especially countries with influence on Palestine and Israel, should stick to an impartial and just position, actively promote peace talks and push forward the Middle East peace process with sincere efforts. Only when the voices of countries in that region, Palestine in particular, are heeded, and all parties’ concerns are accommodated will the broadest consensus be achieved. Solution that departs from the track of peace will never bring enduring peace to the Middle East. China supports President Abbas’s call for an international peace conference and an enlarged multilateral mechanism for peace, and will positively consider participating in ways appropriate.
Fourth, humanitarian issues must not be ignored. COVID-19 has further deepened Palestine’s economic and humanitarian plight. It is imperative to end the blockade on the Gaza Strip as soon as possible and earnestly fulfill the obligations under the Paris Protocol and other international treaties. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been working to ease the humanitarian situation for Palestinian refugees and the pressure on host countries. China appreciates its efforts and calls on the international community to support Palestine in growing its economy, facilitate the work of UNRWA and help improve the humanitarian situation in Palestine. We oppose using the threat to cut off assistance as a tool to exert pressure.
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 international justice and fairness and for all efforts conducive to deescalation. To help the Palestinian people fight COVID-19, China has provided medical supplies such as testing kits, masks and protective suits and has recently sent a team of Chinese medical experts to Palestine to comprehensively share experience on containment, diagnostics and therapeutics.
China values the role of UNRWA. This year, China will donate US$1 million to the agency, provide anti-epidemic supplies to UNRWA-affiliated medical institutions, and through it, PPEs to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Going forward, China will continue to support and help Palestine to the best of its ability.
The Middle East is again at a crossroads between peace and turbulence. Shouldering the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Security Council should and must stand with peace and justice, with righteousness and conscience, and play its due role in bringing about a comprehensive, just and enduring solution to the Palestinian question.