Cease-fire in Middleast as China calls for next step

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China’s envoy to the United Nations said the country will continue to push the UN Security Council to seek a just settlement of the Palestine question, at a UN General Assembly debate Thursday before Palestine and Israel agreed to a cease-fire.

Cease-fire in Middleast as China calls for next step

“In the last couple of weeks, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has escalated to its most severe state in recent years,” said China’s Permanent Representative to the UN Zhang Jun.

Shortly after the ambassador delivered his address in New York, Israel and Palestine said that they had agreed to a cease-fire late Thursday local time.

The announcement came while diplomats representing UN member states were still taking turn to make remarks at the General Assembly.

“Good news! Greater efforts needed to consolidate the progress, end the crisis for good, and seek a just settlement for the question of #Palestine,” Ambassador Zhang said on Twitter. “More actions should be taken to provide humanitarian aid to ease the people’s suffering.”

Palestinian women and children are evacuated from the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, May 20, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Both Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have accepted an Egyptian-brokered deal to cease fighting at 2 am Friday local time to stop 11 days of bloodshed. The intense fighting has killed 232 Palestinians, including 65 children and 39 women, and 12 Israelis.

The cessation in the conflict was the result of growing international pressure on both sides to stop the fighting. At the UN, Secretary-General António Guterres and senior officials from various nations have repeatedly condemned the killing, using the Security Council and the General Assembly as platforms.

“The Security Council bears the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” Zhang said in his address.

Since the outbreak of the conflict, China, as president of the Security Council for May, has worked closely with council members, overcome difficulties, held four council meetings and proposed a draft president statement to urge parties to cease hostilities and ease the tensions as soon as possible, Zhang said.

Zhang noted that Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi presided over a Security Council open emergency meeting May 16 on the conflict to stay committed to the council’s role to end the current crisis.

The meeting, attended by representatives from Palestine and Israel, as well as relevant regional organizations and countries, sent a strong message, Zhang said.

A majority of the council members called for the immediate cessation of hostilities, demanded civilian-protection measures, supported a just solution to the question of Palestine on the basis of the two-state solution, and supported the council in fulfilling its UN Charter duties, the envoy said.

“China commends the great majority of council members for their efforts and urges the relevant member to demonstrate its sense of responsibility,” Zhang said.

He stressed China’s commitment to continue its work to enable the Security Council to respond effectively to the crisis in the Israeli-occupied territories.

The council has held four separate meetings on the conflict in the two weeks since tensions escalated between the two sides on May 10.

At the request of China, Norway and Tunisia, council members convened for two emergency closed-door consultations on May 10 and May 12. China hosted the open debate on Sunday after the US reportedly twice blocked resolutions that “would have condemned Israel’s military response and called for a ceasefire”, Al-Jazeera reported.

The Security Council convened for the fourth time on the conflict on Tuesday but had once again failed to reach a consensus on a joint statement calling for a cease-fire. The US told the panel that the statement would not help calm the situation, according to Al-Jazeera.

“While it’s yet to speak in one voice, the overwhelming majority is clear. I call on all members to join in the collective efforts for ceasefire and protection of civilians,” Zhang wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

In his speech Thursday before the cease-fire was announced, Zhang repeated China’s call for an immediate cessation of hostilities to avoid more civilian casualties.

The ambassador stressed the importance of implementing the UN resolutions to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the Palestinian people. He called on Israel to stop building settlements in the Palestinian territories and evicting Palestinian families.

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China supports measures to prevent humanitarian disasters, Zhang said. He urged Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza to facilitate the access of humanitarian supplies to the area immediately.

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Source : China Daily | Photocredit : Google

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