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

2021/10/19

Mr. President,

I welcome Mr. Kamau to the Council to preside over today's meeting, and thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for his briefing. I also thank Ms. Ashrawi and Mr. Levy for their statements.

China is deeply concerned of the humanitarian situation in the occupied territory of Palestine. Nearly five months after the Gaza conflict, the security and humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory remains grim. In the Gaza Strip, the conflict in May damaged a large number of public facilities and civilian houses, worsening the already severe economic and humanitarian situation. Of the 110,000 displaced people in Gaza, 8250 still have not yet returned to their homes. More delay in the recovery and reconstruction of Gaza will cause greater suffering of the people already affected by the conflict. China appreciates the efforts aimed at alleviating the plight of the local population, such as the issuance of cash assistance by Qatar in cooperation with the UN, and the work done by UNRWA in spite of difficulties. We call for the early reconstruction of Gaza to restore the normal life of the people. The international community should increase its support for this reconstruction. Israel should open more relevant crossings in Gaza to clear the obstacles for the entry of humanitarian and reconstruction materials into Gaza.

China strongly calls for the easing of tension in the West Bank. Israeli security forces operations continue to cause Palestinian casualties, aggravate the conflicts between the two sides, and escalate tension. The violence by Israeli settlers has intensified, exemplified by the attack on September 28, which injures several Palestinians, including a three year old child in sleep. As Special Coordinator Wennesland has repeatedly emphasized, Israel, as the occupying power, must fulfill its obligations under international humanitarian law by guaranteeing the safety of the people in the occupied territory, thoroughly investigating the attacks, and bringing those responsible to justice.

China urges Israel to stop its actions that undermine the prospects of the two-state solution such as expansion of settlements. Recently, Israel has approved building plan in “Giv’at Hamatos” settlement in Jerusalem, and Palestinian residents in communities such as Sheikh Jarrah are still at risk of being evicted. The construction of settlements violates international law and undermines the prospects of the two-state solution. Israel must abide by the relevant UN resolutions, stop expanding settlements, stop demolishing Palestinian houses, and stop evicting Palestinian people. The historical status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem should be maintained and respected.

Mr. President,

The fundamental way to solve the Palestinian issue lies in the implementation of the two-state solution. Two weeks ago, the permanent observer of Palestine stated in the letter to the President of the Security Council that the international community should not replace the just settlement of the Palestinian issue with crisis management and control. China fully agrees with this. Only by realizing the two-state solution and restoring the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, can the cycle of violence be broken, and Palestine and Israel live side by side and coexist in peace.

We hope that Palestine and Israel will take the recent high-level contacts as an opportunity to continue to build momentum, gradually reestablish mutual trust, and resume equal dialogue at an early date. We support Egypt and other countries in a region in playing an important role to promote reconciliation among Palestinians. and call for strengthening the authority of the Palestinian National Authority, and empowering it to exercise sovereignty functions in security, finance and other areas. We urge countries with important influence to uphold an objective and fair position, and avoid partiality and double standards on the issue of Palestine. The Security Council bears the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, and must take effective actions to resolve the Palestinian issue. We reaffirm our readiness to welcome Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to conduct direct talks in China,, and call for the holding of an international peace conference led by the UN, with the participation of permanent members of the Security Council and all stakeholders in the Middle East peace process.

Mr. President,

China has always attached great importance to the humanitarian situation in Palestine, and has taken concrete actions to support the Palestinian people in their fight against the pandemic. On many occasions, China has sent humanitarian assistance such as emergency cash assistance, anti-pandemic supplies and vaccines to Palestine. China will donate an additional one million doses of vaccines and will join forces with Egypt to send 500,000 doses of vaccines to people in the Gaza Strip. We will also provide 200,000 doses of vaccines to UNRWA.

As a sincere friend of Palestine, China supports the just cause of Palestinians in pursuing the restoration of their legitimate national rights and the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. We will continue to work with the international community to promote an early, comprehensive, lasting and just settlement of the Palestinian issue.

I thank you, Mr. President.

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