Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah, reception ceremony in Ramallah, 2018..
(photo credit: ABBAS MOMANI/POOL VIA REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority called on China – in its capacity as a permanent member of the UN Security Council – to play an active role in the Middle East peace process, during a meeting in Ramallah on Tuesday between visiting Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and senior PLO and Fatah officials.
During the meeting, Hamdallah also called on China to support PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s peace initiative, which calls for holding an international conference on peace in the Middle East with wide international participation.
This would include both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, as well as the active regional and international parties.
Abbas proposed his peace plan during a speech he delivered at the UN Security Council in February.
Hamdallah also urged China to exert pressure on Israel to “halt its violations and honor international laws and resolutions.”
He told the Chinese vice president that Israeli measures, including settlement construction, were aimed at “destroying the peace process and the two-state solution.”
The PA prime minister praised China for its continued support for the Palestinians in international forums and its economic aid to the Palestinians. He pointed out that China was training PA government employees and security personnel, providing financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and helping establish industrial zones in the West Bank.
The PA’s official WAFA news agency quoted Wang as telling the Palestinian officials that China stands with the Palestinian people and their just cause and backs a two-state solution to the conflict. Wang, according to the agency, also stressed that the Palestinian cause was the core issue of the Middle East and the world.
Earlier in the day, Wang visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and then traveled to Ramallah, where he placed a wreath on the grave of Yasser Arafat.
Late Tuesday afternoon Wang met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
“The relations between China and Israel are excellent, based on mutual respect, a shared past and a promising future,” Rivlin said. He recalled the strong ties between the Chinese and Jewish peoples, nothing that there had been a Jewish community in China as early at the 10th century CE.
Wang thanked Rivlin by saying, “The relations between the two countries are based on a long shared history, as you mentioned, and also on partnership in innovation. Israel does not have large natural resources, but the miracle of development rests on the tremendous human capital of this nation. Human beings are the most precious asset.”
China holds one of five permanent seats on the 15-member UN Security Council and therefore has veto power for any resolution. It first recognized Palestine as a state in 1988 and maintains a embassy in Ramallah.
It is a strong supporter of a two-state resolution to the conflict along pre- 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. In December 2016, China was one of 14 UNSC countries to support resolution 2334 condemning Israeli “occupation” of the Western Wall.
China only established ties with Israel in 1992, but bilateral relations between the two countries, including boosting economic ties, is the primary focus of the vice president’s visit.
China is Israel’s third largest trading partner, and Wang is its highest ranking diplomat to visit Israel in 18 years.
On Wednesday, Wang will join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to participate in the Fourth China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation meeting at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, where both leaders are expected to jointly issue public statements.
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