China backs Palestine’s ‘just cause’
Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that he is willing to promote peace talks between Israel and Palestine with the aid of establishing an independent Palestinian state. In recent months, Beijing has emerged as a powerful mediator in the Middle East, and a potential peacemaker in Ukraine.
Xi met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. “We are good friends and partners,” the Chinese leader told Abbas, adding that his government has “always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights.”
According to Chinese state media, Xi told Abbas that he was “willing to play an active role in helping Palestine achieve internal reconciliation and promote peace talks.”
“The fundamental solution to the Palestinian issue lies in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Xi stated, reiterating China’s long-standing support for a 1967 UN Security Council resolution demanding that Israel withdraw from territories occupied during the Arab-Israeli War.
Israel rejects this resolution, and its troops continue to occupy the West Bank and East Jerusalem, building illegal settlements in the former and considering the latter a part of its capital city. Although Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it maintains a near-total blockade on the densely-populated strip.
Peace talks aimed at reaching a two-state solution – in which the Palestinians would have full sovereignty over Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – broke down in 2014. US President Joe Biden publicly supports this solution, but recognizes East Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and despite criticizing Israel’s West Bank settlements, has blocked efforts by the UN Security Council to formally condemn the policy.
Back in April, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang held separate conversations with Israeli and Palestinian diplomats, declaring afterwards that Beijiing was ready to aid in negotiations. This offer came less than a month after Xi negotiated the resumption of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia after a seven-year freeze.
The deal represented China’s first successful foray into Middle Eastern diplomacy, an arena in which the United States has for decades acted as the chief influencer. It also established China as a credible middleman, at a time in which Beijing is seeking international support for its 12-point roadmap to resolving the conflict in Ukraine.
For Abbas, the meeting with Xi was also aimed at securing tangible short-term benefits. The two leaders signed several bilateral cooperation agreements on Tuesday, with Abbas stating that “we especially appreciate the Chinese side’s commitment to financing a number of development projects presented by Palestine.”