|Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Briefing on Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question|
Thank you, Mr. President,
Mr. President, I also would like to thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for the briefing he just made. On May 22, the Security Council issued a press statement welcoming the announcement of ceasefire in Gaza. However, it is worrisome that less than a month later, the Israeli government approved the flag march in the Holy City, a move that escalated tensions. And it once again conducted airstrikes against Gaza. These acts have cast a shadow over the already fragile ceasefire. China urges all parties, Israel in particular, to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from any provocations, violence targeting civilians, or any acts that might intensify frictions. Israel must seriously uphold and respect the historic status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem, and sincerely respect and protect the religious rights of Muslims.
Israel’s illegal settlement activities in the occupied territories constitute an obstacle to peace between Palestine and Israel and to the prospect of the two-state solution. In total disregard of the objection from the international community, Israel has been advancing its settlement plans, approving over 540 additional housing units and ordering demolition of structures housing some 50 Palestinian families. In Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan of East Jerusalem, Palestinians still face the risk of eviction and are living in fears of becoming homeless and displaced. The settlement activities are in severe contravention to international law and are serious violations of the right to self-determination and sovereignty of the Palestinian people. As such, they constitute one of the triggers of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in May. We urge Israel to observe Security Council Resolution 2334, immediately cease its settlement activities in the occupied territories, stop its demolition of Palestinian houses and its eviction of the Palestinian people, and effectively halt the deteriorating violence relating to settlers.
Conflicts in May caused huge civilian casualties, including 66 children in Gaza, and heavily damaged infrastructure in Gaza, thus worsening the humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories. In its press statement issued in May, the Council called for swift and sustainable reconstruction and recovery in Gaza. China has provided Palestine with $1 million as emergency humanitarian assistance. We welcome the efforts by the UN, the World Bank, Egypt and other countries in the region towards rebuilding Gaza. We urge Israel to open the relevant crossings in Gaza, fully lift its blockade against Gaza as soon as possible, and facilitate access of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction supplies, rather than creating obstacles and setting preconditions.
The protracted turmoil in the Palestinian-Israeli situation in recent years is largely caused by the fact that the Middle East peace process has derailed its right track, that the UN resolutions have not been implemented, and that Palestine’s right to independent statehood has been violated repeatedly. The international community must take an objective and impartial stand and make vigorous efforts to relaunch the peace process. The Security Council must implement its mandate of maintaining international peace by promoting efforts to alleviate the situation, rebuild trust and seek a political settlement. Countries that have significant influence in the region must take an objective and impartial stand, refrain from favoring one side over the other and practicing double standard. China supports the United Nations, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Countries, Egypt, Qatar and other countries in their continued efforts to promote peace talks, and strengthen international coordination, so as to form greater synergy for peace that is more extensive and effective.
As true friend of the Palestinian people, China will continue to lend unwavering support to the just cause of the Palestinian people in achieving their national rights. China supports the establishment of an independent State of Palestine with full sovereignty and with East Jerusalem as its capital on the basis of the 1967 borders.
Thank you, Mr. President.