China to UNSC: Palestinians can count on us to back their just rights

“China is a sincere friend of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people can always count on China’s support for their just cause and legitimate national rights,” Zhang said.

Zhang Jun, China's Ambassador to the United Nations speaks at a Security Council meeting (photo credit: REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI)
Zhang Jun, China's Ambassador to the United Nations speaks at a Security Council meeting
China stands behind the "just cause” of the Palestinians, its UN envoy Zhang Jun told the United Nations Security Council, as he pledged China’s backing for the internationally led peace process, rather than one headed by US President Donald Trump.
“China supports [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas’s call for an international peace conference and to enlarge the multi-lateral mechanism for peace,” Zhang said.
China “would positively consider participating” in such a conference “in appropriate ways,” he said.
“It is important for us to heed the voice and concerns of the Palestinian people as well as countries in that region,” Zhang said.
He referenced a solidarity call that Chinese President Xi Jinping made to Abbas on Monday, in which he reiterated Beijing's “firm support” for the Palestinian’s “just demand” for a two-state solution.
“China is a sincere friend of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people can always count on China’s support for their just cause and legitimate national rights,” Zhang said.
He took an apparent swipe at United States support for Israel, when he called on “countries having influence on Palestine and Israel to stay impartial and just in promoting peace talks.”
China is one of five permanent UNSC members that have veto power in the 15-member body.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Zhang spoke out against any pending Israeli plans to apply sovereignty to portions of the West Bank.
It’s “unsettling that planned annexation may provoke a new round of tensions,” Zhang said, adding that the “international community has been loud and clear in voicing objection to annexation,” which he warned would constitute “a most serious violation of international law.”
The Russian envoy, whose country also has veto power at the UNSC and is a Quartet member, said that Moscow was ready to facilitate a renewed Israelis and Palestinian negotiations.
“The Palestinian question is central to the whole Middle East,” he said, as he called for the immediate start to bilateral talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Russia is ready to undertake efforts in the interests of achieving a settlement within the internationally recognized parameters, UN resolutions, Madrid principles [and] the Arab Peace Initiative,” which provide for a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 parameters with east Jerusalem as its capital, he said.
Like the Chinese envoy, he also appeared to attack the US and its peace plan, as he spoke against those who were “trying to promote one-sided approaches.” He added that the “opinions of local populations… are often ignored.”
THE GERMAN representative, whose country holds the rotating UNSC presidency this month, reissued its warning that any Israeli annexation efforts would harm ties between the Jewish state and the European Union.
“We are alarmed by the stated intention of the Israeli government to annex parts of the West Bank,” which would violate international law “irrespective of the size of the territory effected” and the “terminology used.”
He warned that annexation would “render impossible” the resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and would instead bring them closer to a “one-state” reality.
“Annexation would have consequences for the close relationship between Israel and the EU and its member states,” he said.
At the start of the meeting, the UNSC was briefed by UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, as well as by Daniel Levy of the British and US based Middle East Project and Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian political scientist at the Ramallah based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
Levy said that annexation was simply a symptom of the denial of Palestinian rights and equality, both in the West Bank and Gaza.
“The collective challenge is not how to prevent annexation but how to address occupation and these deeper and entrenched structural problems,” Levy said.
He urged the Security Council not to continue pursuing past paradigms to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but to pursue new ones.
Israel should be held to account for its violations of international law, he said, including through sanctions.
Human rights must be upheld, Levy said, including with the help of the International Criminal Court. This includes “the right to be free of antisemitism and xenophobia,” he said.
Levy urged the UNSC not to accept any plan for a Palestinian state that was a “state minus,” adding that the council should create a commission to appraise “new approaches” to resolve the longstanding conflict.
SHIKAKI SAID that Palestinians had given up hope in a two-state resolution to the conflict.
He blamed their attitudes on settlement expansion, Trump’s peace plan and the shortcomings of the Palestinian Authority.
“Many of them, particularly the youth… have come to embrace a one-state solution, one in which democracy rules; one person one vote," Shikaki said. "The trend over the last decade is unquestionable. Support is gradually tilting in favor of one state."
“There is also increased support for a violent response, which began to rise five years ago and has now reached almost half of the public,” he said, adding that the most recent spike was triggered by the Trump plan.
With the right leadership and the right incentive, both Israelis and Palestinians could support a detailed, identical and realistic resolution to the conflict, Shikaki said.
“Replacing a rules-based international system with one based on greed and Evangelical religious myths is a threat not only to us, the Palestinians, but also to you – all of you,” he said.
He urged the UNSC to stand up to both Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Among Security Council members, the US is alone in dismissing the relevance of the pre-1967 lines. Trump’s peace plan instead calls for a two-state solution that gives Israel 30% of the West Bank. Israel can apply sovereignty to that portion of the West Bank in the early phase of a four-year process toward a two-state solution.
US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said that those who oppose the plan have not offered a viable alternative.
“We’ve seen more discussion of the potential punitive responses against Israel, rather than discussion of productive ways to engage in peace and encourage the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table. Unless we can get the parties to engage directly, young people in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel will continue to suffer,” she said.