|Statement by Ambassador LIU Jieyi at the Security Council Debate on the Situation in the Middle East|
(Photo by Li Muzi, Xinhua News Agency)
I thank the Secretary-General for his briefing, and we appreciate the efforts by the Secretariat and the Secretary-General himself for advancing the peace process in the Middle East.
The question of Palestine is the core of the Middle East question and underpins peace in the Middle East. It is the shared responsibility of the international community to safeguard the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people. At present, the situation between Palestine and Israel is grim. Violent conflicts are on the rise, the peace talks have come to an impasse, the security situation has deteriorated, and humanitarian disasters have intensified.
The conflict between Palestine and Israel poses the danger of continuous escalation, with the spillover effect also on the rise. A comprehensive and fair solution to the Palestinian question is in the interests of all sides. The international community should take swift action and focus its efforts on the following aspects.
First, we must stay the right course: establishing an independent State of Palestine and peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel. Establishing a Palestinian State with full sovereignty, based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people as well as the key to resolving the question of Palestine. Intra-Palestine reconciliation could facilitate the establishment of the State of Palestine.
Secondly, peace talks, as the only way forward, must continue. If they stall, this could exacerbate differences, incite hatred and drag Palestine and Israel into a vicious circle of escalating violence in which both sides would pay a heavy price. The use of force is never a solution. The earlier the peace talks start, the sooner the people of Palestine and Israel will benefit. It is only by resuming negotiations at an early date that it will be possible to achieve peace and stability between Palestine and Israel and the region. This is in the fundamental interests of both sides.
Thirdly, in promoting the peace process we must abide by the principle of land for peace, the two-State solution, the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant United Nations resolutions. These are important outcomes achieved by the international community following difficult negotiations and serve as important guidance for advancing the peace process in the Middle East. On this basis, all sides should stay the course and help to promote a political solution.
Fourthly, both Palestine and Israel should take specific steps to move the peace process forward. Israel must first demonstrate its sincerity by taking practical steps to stop its settlement activities, cease the demolition of Palestinian properties and stop the violence against innocent civilians. It should lift the blockade on Gaza so as to create conditions conducive to the resumption of talks. At the same time, the legitimate security concerns of the States of the region should also be respected.
Fifthly, in order to advance the peace process, the international community should provide vital guarantees. The international community recently intensified its efforts to resolve the Palestinian question, with new ideas and innovative thinking, including creating an international support group, convening an international peace conference on the Palestinian question, and cultivating forces for peace in the Middle East. The international community should strengthen coordination, turn the positive momentum into concrete action and make every effort to achieve realistic and operable results. The Security Council should respond positively to the legitimate demands of the Palestinians and the Arab States and give serious consideration to draft resolutions on providing international protection to the Palestinian people and ending the expansion and construction of settlements. It should take the necessary actions to promote the relaunching of peace talks.
Sixthly, the international community should do its best to improve the humanitarian situation in Palestine and continue to advance its economic reconstruction. China calls upon Israel to cooperate with the international aid efforts by completely lifting the blockade on Gaza. All parties should respond positively to the United Nations aid plan for Palestine and scaled-up assistance to Gaza. They should engage economic cooperation with Palestine so that the humanitarian situation and the climate for survival on the ground will improve and the Palestinian people will be able to see hope.
China has always supported the Palestinian people’s struggle for its legitimate national rights and has worked to promote peace and negotiations. In 2013, President Xi Jinping made a four-point proposal for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli issue. During his visit to the Middle East in January 2016, President Xi reiterated that China would firmly support the just cause of the Palestinian people. The Chinese Government’s Special Envoy on Middle East affairs has been actively engaged in efforts to promote peace and negotiations. Every year, China provides economic assistance to Palestine through the United Nations or bilaterally for improving the welfare of the Palestinian people.
Last January, China decided to provide RMB50 million of free aid to Palestine. China is ready to join the international community in a continued effort to promote a bona fide solution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
As a steadfast supporter of, and facilitator for, peace in the Middle East, China has been working actively for a peaceful political settlement of the questions in Syria, Yemen, Libya, among other hotspots, with a view to achieving peace and stability in the Middle East at an early date.
With regard to the Syrian issue, the agreement between the parties on the cessation of hostilities is holding. Progress has been achieved in the field of humanitarian relief and the peace talks in Geneva are on track. The international community should continue to support the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura in his good offices and make the following efforts.
First, it should support United Nations relief agencies in their efforts to expand humanitarian relief activities. The countries concerned should strengthen communication and coordination with the Government of Syria to facilitate the process.
Secondly, it should ensure that all the Syrian parties will continue to abide by the agreement on the cessation of hostilities so as to continue to ease the situation.
Thirdly, it should promote progress in the peace talks in Geneva and encourage the parties to follow the principle of moving from the easy to the difficult, starting with the issues where consensus exists in order to produce a timely result and promote confidence-building.
Fourthly, it should step up the international fight against terrorism and join hands in combating the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham, the Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations listed by the Council. The Chinese Government appointed Ambassador Xie Xiaoyan as its Special Envoy for the Syrian crisis. As always, China will promote the political process for a settlement of the Syrian question.
On the question of Yemen, the nationwide cessation of hostilities by the Yemeni parties and the new round of political dialogue in Kuwait signify a return to the political track of consultation and dialogue on the question. We hope that the Yemeni parties will honor their commitment to abide by the cessation of hostilities agreement and demonstrate political will in the national dialogue by tackling issues such as the military conflict, security arrangements and the restoration of State institutions, on the one hand, and focus on the establishment of an inclusive political system in Yemen and the formulation of a political solution that meets Yemen’s reality and accommodates the concerns of all parties, on the other. All parties to the conflict should actively cooperate with the United Nations humanitarian relief efforts and provide safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian relief items in order to ease the humanitarian situation on the ground.
On the question of Libya, recently the Libyan parties made an important headway in implementing the Libyan political agreement. The Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord moved into the capital to start its work, but the country’s deep-rooted problems have yet to be completely resolved, while the external environment is highly complex. Efforts should be made to promote synergy between Libya’s internal efforts and external political support to further consolidate the current state of affairs. Libya should adhere to a political process that is led by Libyans and open to all parties. They should work hard to defuse conflicts, achieve national reconciliation and adopt measures that are in keeping with the popular will and the national choice. The international community should urge the Libyan parties to join and fully implement the Libyan political agreement, ensure safe and smooth proceedings by the Presidential Council and settle differences through dialogue and consultation.
Countries in the Middle East are all confronted with the formidable challenge of terrorism. The fight against terrorism is closely connected with the settlement of the hotspot issues in the Middle East. Increasing cooperation against terrorism is a joint responsibility of the States of the region and of the international community. All the parties concerned, within the framework of the United Nations, should adopt common measures, resolutely crack down on the spreading of ideologies of violent extremism and terrorism, sever the channels of financing for terrorism and stop foreign terrorist flows in order to create favorable conditions for the political resolution of hotspot issues. With regard to counterterrorism, there should be no double standards. Neither should terrorism be linked with a specific ethnicity or religion.
China is ready to work with the international community in a joint effort to find a way out of the chaos in the Middle East in order to reduce conflicts and suffering, create more tranquility and human dignity there and so that peace, stability and development may prevail soon.