China reiterates call for peace in Palestine-Israel conflict during UN meeting

Wang Yi

29th November 2023 – (United Nations) China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, reaffirmed China’s stance on the Palestine-Israel conflict during a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday. Wang emphasized China’s unwavering commitment to peace and called for a complete cease-fire and the swift implementation of a two-state solution.

Chinese observers noted the significance of Wang’s proposals and China’s chairing of a high-level meeting on the issue, which comes at a crucial moment when Palestine and Israel are in a temporary truce. These actions highlight the pressing issues at hand and lay the groundwork for a future resolution to the Palestine issue. Experts praised Wang’s attendance at the meeting, viewing it as a demonstration of China’s sincere efforts to seek a solution to the crisis.

However, experts believe that even if Israel and Hamas agree to extend the truce for an additional two days, the prospects of a long-term cease-fire are slim. As the crisis persists, the United States is signalling to the international community that there are differences between the U.S. and Israel, possibly in an attempt to navigate the current diplomatic challenges and counterbalance China’s influence, according to experts.

During his meeting with Guterres in New York, Wang, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, reiterated China’s firm stance on the side of peace, human conscience, and international law. He expressed China’s support for the UN and the secretary-general in their efforts to play a unique and indispensable role in resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Wang outlined three key points. Firstly, he emphasized the necessity of preventing a reignition of the war and called for a complete cease-fire to avert further humanitarian disasters while urging the release of hostages. Secondly, Wang stressed the importance of ensuring unimpeded access to humanitarian supplies in Gaza. Lastly, he underlined the need to restart the two-state solution process at the earliest opportunity.

Wang’s statements preceded his chairing of a UN Security Council high-level meeting on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, scheduled for Wednesday. He also discussed the meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir, highlighting its critical timing as it coincides with the final day of the temporary cease-fire agreement. Wang emphasized the importance of preventing the resumption of hostilities and the infliction of harm on innocent civilians, urging the meeting to convey a clear message on this matter.

While Wang’s proposals address the most urgent issues and set the stage for a permanent solution, experts believe that reaching a concrete cease-fire agreement may prove challenging due to Israel’s reluctance to halt its military actions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated that military operations will resume once the current temporary cease-fire concludes, asserting that Israel will continue until victory.

Experts anticipate that the intensity of Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip may be somewhat diminished compared to previous operations, as international pressure mounts to avoid further civilian casualties.

Resolving the way forward for the Gaza Strip will be a crucial point of contention once the conflict subsides. The international community is expected to intensify efforts to push for the implementation of a two-state solution, given the heightened urgency highlighted by the conflict. However, the leadership of the plan and the basis for a solution are yet to be determined by the international community, according to Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University.

Additionally, growing divergences between Israel and the United States have emerged. Netanyahu’s statement opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state clashes with the Biden administration’s policy, which seeks to revive discussions on a two-state solution to maintain support from Arab nations.

As a sign that the U.S. is shifting its stance, the Biden administration is advocating for a more targeted approach to the conflict, engaging in intensive consultations with Netanyahu. This shift aims to prevent the conflict from escalating beyond Gaza and has been the result of collaboration with Arab allies, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Tian Wenlin, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, suggests that Biden’s adjustment reflects increased international and domestic pressure regarding the U.S.’s unequivocal support for Israel. Tian argues that the U.S.’s standing has been further tarnished by this support, leading to internal discord within the U.S. government.

Reports from U.S. media indicate that over 500 political appointees and staff members from various government agencies sent a letter to President Biden, expressing their opposition to U.S. support for Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The differing positions of the U.S. and Israel have placed the U.S. at odds with the Arab world, which it seeks to win over in order to counter China’s influence and expand its international standing, according to Tian. As the conflict between Israel and Palestine continues, the U.S.’s hopes may fade, prompting Biden to signal to the international community that there are discrepancies between the U.S. and Israel. This move is seen as an attempt to extricate the U.S. from a diplomatic quagmire,while also countering China’s growing influence in the region.