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FM: Cease-fire in Gaza 'key to survival'

By ZHANG YUNBI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-11-21 07:27

Foreign Minister Wang Yi (front row, fourth from right), Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha (front row, right) and other members of the delegation from Arab-Islamic countries pose for a photo at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Monday. [Photo/Agencies]

Beijing became the first stop on Monday of a mediation trip by a delegation of Arab-Islamic countries' foreign ministers, who seek to cool down the ongoing conflict in the Gaza region.

At their meeting with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, achieving a cease-fire and faithfully honoring international humanitarian law constituted the two key points of China's latest proposal for resolving the Palestine question.

During the talks, China called for the convening of "an international peace conference of a greater scale, scope and efficacy at an early date "and asked for formulation of a timetable and a road map.

At the meeting on Monday, the two sides also exchanged support for each other's peacemaking efforts.

The delegation members, whose visit to Beijing will wrap up on Tuesday, voiced hope for closer coordination with China to prevent the crisis from spreading, and they urged a restart of peace talks.

Wang pointed to the urgency of fully implementing the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, saying that a cease-fire is "no longer a diplomatic statement, but a key to the survival of the people of Gaza".

He underlined the need to comply with international law, in particular international humanitarian law, and to reject any forced displacement and forced relocation of Palestinian civilians.

"Israel should stop collective punishment against the people of Gaza" and open a humanitarian corridor as soon as possible to prevent a wider humanitarian disaster, he said.

Members of the delegation include senior officials from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Palestine, as well as Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Observers said the meeting on Monday was the latest clear evidence of China's consistent, constructive role in brokering peace in the Middle East, as it works to boost global unity in stopping bloodshed and discourage moves that worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Observers also said Beijing's latest peacemaking efforts remind them of China's successful push earlier this year for rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

"The latest conflict escalation in Gaza serves as living proof to the whole world that the Middle East will not enjoy real, tangible peace as long as the Palestine question is not completely resolved," said Li Shaoxian, director of Ningxia University's China-Arab Research Institute.

"Since this year, China has helped make possible the booming reconciliation drives in the Middle East region, and China has been a consistent and constant driving force constructively making peace and building a stable, peaceful environment," he added.

In terms of creating peace in the region, major countries in the world should join hands and cooperate on efforts to create even more enabling conditions for the peacemaking process, he said.

China, as the rotating president of the UN Security Council, has earnestly sought adoption of the first UN Security Council resolution since the start of the current hostilities.

At the talks, Arab-Islamic countries endorsed China's longstanding and impartial stance on the Palestine question, and expressed appreciation for China's role in UN efforts.

Regarding the UN Security Council, Wang said it should listen to the voices of Arab-Islamic countries and "take responsible actions to push the situation to cool down".

China will continue to work with Arab-Islamic countries to strengthen coordination, build consensus and push the Security Council to "take further meaningful action" on the situation in Gaza, Wang added.

Monday also marked the 35th-anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Palestine.

Analysts said the ultimate settlement of the crisis hinges on realizing the two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, which positions were reiterated on Monday by Beijing and the delegation.

"Despite the bumpy roads ahead toward the two-state solution, hope may still grow as long as all the parties work toward the same goal," said Su Xiaohui, an associate research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies.

"On the other hand, moves that stir up tension or force others to take sides will only introduce more obstacles," she warned.

While speaking of solutions to the current crisis that were proposed by various parties, Wang emphasized that none should deviate from the two-state solution, while all should be conducive to regional peace and stability.

He also pointed out that any arrangement involving the future of Palestine must obtain the consent of the Palestinian people and also "accommodate the legitimate concerns" of countries in the region.

Regarding the delegation's making China the first stop for its mediation trip, Wang said it "shows a high degree of trust in China" and reflects the nation's "fine tradition of mutual understanding and support".

The visiting delegation voiced hopes that China will play a greater role in ending the conflict and resolving the Palestine question in a fair and just manner.

In a separate meeting with the delegation in Beijing on Monday, Vice-President Han Zheng expressed China's "deep concern "over the "exceptionally dire humanitarian situation" in Gaza. He said that China is accelerating its help to Gaza in terms of emergency supplies and cash assistance.

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