Beijing calls for end to hostilities in Gaza, more peacemaking efforts

2023-10-25 10:27:42China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke by phone on Monday with his Palestinian and Israeli counterparts, driving China's latest efforts to end hostilities and restore peace in the Gaza Strip.

During his conversation with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, Wang expressed his deepest sympathies for the people caught in the conflict.

"What Gaza needs most is peacemaking efforts, not geopolitical calculation," he said, adding that China has provided emergency humanitarian assistance to the strife-torn region and will continue doing so.

Al-Maliki expressed his gratitude to China for upholding justice with a clear and strong voice.

During his conversation with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Wang said that all countries have the right to self-defense, but they should respect international humanitarian law and not jeopardize the safety of civilians.

"China is deeply concerned about the continued escalation of the conflict, and is deeply saddened by the large number of civilian casualties. The top priority now is to prevent the situation from further escalating and causing a more serious humanitarian disaster," he said.

Cohen gave Wang an update on Israel's position on the conflict and its security concerns. Wang said the Palestine-Israel conflict affects the whole world and represents a major choice between war and peace.

The painful lessons of the recurring Palestine-Israel conflict fully demonstrate that sustainable security can be achieved only by adhering to the concept of common security, while political settlement is the only way to thoroughly address Israel's legitimate security concerns, Wang said.

"China will firmly support any move that is conducive to peace and will do its best as long as it is conducive to the reconciliation between Palestine and Israel," he added.

Appeal to UN

The foreign minister also urged the United Nations Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities, and called on the international community to take urgent action.

Countries outside the region, especially major powers, should remain impartial and play a constructive role in de-escalating the crisis, Wang said.

China sincerely hopes that a comprehensive and fair solution to the Palestinian question can be found on the basis of the two-state solution and by realization of Palestinian people's right to existence and statehood.

Since the outbreak of the current conflict, China has maintained close communication with relevant parties, actively participated in Security Council consultations, and made every effort to promote peace talks and help de-escalate the situation.

Zhai Jun, China's special envoy on the Middle East issue, is now touring several Arab countries, engaging in shuttle diplomacy.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Tuesday that the international community, especially Arab nations, has hailed China's just position and the role it has played as a responsible major country.

Two hostages freed

Amid rapidly expanding Israeli airstrikes across the Gaza Strip and the mounting death toll, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, released two elderly hostages on Monday, taking the total number of those freed to four.

Israeli citizens Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and Nurit Cooper, 79, were allowed to return home for "humanitarian reasons" and following "Egyptian-Qatari mediation", according to Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

On Friday, Hamas freed two Israeli American women, but is still holding more than 200 Israelis and foreigners hostage, The Associated Press reported.

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Monday that the military "has been actively involved in operational and intelligence efforts to secure the release of all the hostages".

The IDF carried out limited ground raids in Gaza, according to Hagari. "During the night, there were raids by tank and infantry forces," he told reporters.

Fighting also continued along Israel's northern border with Lebanon. As sporadic clashes were reported between Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Islamist group, and Israeli forces, a prominent Lebanese politician said on Tuesday that Lebanon will not initiate a war with Israel, but will defend itself if attacked.

Macron visits Israel

The day's developments prompted Ajay Banga, president of the World Bank, to raise the Middle East crisis issue at an investor conference in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. The conflict could deal a "serious blow" to global economic development, he said.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Israel on Tuesday, met with Israeli officials and warned against the risks of a regional conflict.

After meeting with families of French victims at Tel Aviv airport, Macron told Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem that France stood "shoulder to shoulder" with Israel.

Standing beside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later, Macron stressed Israel's right to defend itself in its war against Hamas. "The fight must be without mercy, but not without rules" because democracies "respect the rules of war", Macron said, adding that democracies don't target civilians.

Macron's visit comes after European Union foreign ministers struggled on Monday to agree on a call for a "humanitarian pause" in the conflict to allow more aid to reach civilians.

As of Tuesday, nearly 6,000 people in Palestine and more than 1,400 in Israel have been killed since the conflict started on Oct 7, The Associated Press reported.

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