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

2020/11/18

Madam President,

I'd like to take this opportunity to express my deepest condolences over the passing of Dr. Saeb Erekat, Secretary-General of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and my heartfelt sympathies to the Palestinian government, people and Dr. Erekat’s family. Dr. Erekat’s lifelong devotion to Palestinian national liberation, and to the settlement of the Palestinian issue through peaceful negotiations has won him great respect across the world. He has also been actively engaged in promoting China-Palestine friendship as an old friend of the Chinese people.

Madam President, I thank Special Coordinator Mladenov for his briefing. The question of Palestine is at the root of the Middle East instability. Many people like Dr. Erekat have dedicated their entire life to the pursuit of a solution. As Secretary-General Guterres said, the international community should continue their crucial work, push for an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

We must stay the course of taking forward the political settlement based on the two-state solution. Relevant resolutions, the principle of land for peace, and the two-state solution, epitomizing the wisdom and efforts of many generations remain an important foundation for resolving the Palestinian issue. However the international situation evolves, they must be observed and implemented, and there should be no turning back. The Security Council resolution 2334 unequivocally defined settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories as violations of international law that undermine the prospects for a two-state solution.

China supports resolving the issue of the occupied territories in the West Bank in accordance with relevant UN resolutions and defining the final border between Palestine and Israel through peaceful negotiations. We call on all parties concerned to refrain from unilateral actions that might aggravate conflict. In particular, there is a need to abandon annexation plan and stop settlement activities in the occupied territories. Relevant parties should abide by the understanding reached in late August, stop violence and avoid an escalation of tensions in the Gaza Strip.

We need to further coordinate and facilitate international peace efforts. During the recent general debate of the Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly, member states expressed their views on the situation the Middle East and the Palestinian question, and once again set out their expectations for an early realization of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. The international community, especially the countries with influence on Palestine and Israel, should be objective and impartial in bringing parties together and make genuine efforts conducive to the Middle East peace process. Any initiative or plan on the Palestinian issue must take into account the voices of regional countries and organizations, especially Palestine, and heed the concerns of all parties. No plan that deviates from the track of peace in the Middle East would succeed in bringing about lasting peace. Imposed solutions simply won't work. We have noted that President Abbas’ proposal for an international peace conference to be held early next year has received positive responses from parties. The international community should strengthen coordination to forge synergy for multilateral peace efforts.

We should put people first and improve the economic and humanitarian situation in Palestine. According to UN statistics, since the beginning of this year, 689 Palestinian structures have been demolished, hitting a record high. At the beginning of this month, 76 Palestinian structures were demolished in the West Bank, leaving more than 70 people homeless, over half of them children. China is deeply concerned about this and calls for the implementation of Council resolution 2334, no more demolition of Palestinian homes, no more destruction of Palestinian property, and no more violence against civilians.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the economic and social development of Palestine. We encourage Palestine and Israel to address the problem of tax revenues through consultation and urge to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip. We welcome the Palestinian Authority’s decision to resume security and civilian cooperation with Israel.

UNRWA provides education, medical and other essential services to over 5 million Palestinian refugees, making important contributions to improving the humanitarian situation in Palestine. The agency is now facing massive financial strains. We are deeply worried and echo SG's call for the international community to honor its commitments and scale up support for this agency.

China has been actively supporting the agency's work, and has increased its annual contributions to the agency several times. Last month, the health kits donated by China to refugees both inside and outside Palestine have arrived in relevant countries. And these health kits containing personal protective equipment will be distributed to Palestinian refugees in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria through UNRWA. The consignments of anti-pandemic supplies donated by China to the medical facilities of UNRWA have left port. These are concrete efforts attesting to China's support for Palestine and other Arab countries in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the support for UN agencies.

As a sincere friend of the Palestinian people, China firmly supports their just cause and aspiration to establish a fully sovereign and independent state of Palestine based on the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. We will continue to do all we can to assist Palestine in fighting the pandemic, developing its economy and improving its people's livelihood and continue to make positive contribution to an early, comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question.

Thank you, Madam President.

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