Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question

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Mr. President,

I thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland and Major General Patrick Gauchat for their briefings.

Nearly 80 days into the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict, more than two million innocent people in Gaza have been suffering from an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. On December 11, thanks to the arrangements made by the governments of the UAE and Egypt, I visited Al-Arish and Rafah crossing together with the ambassadors of many Council members and gained hands-on experience of the humanitarian disaster in Gaza. Egypt and other countries have made tremendous efforts to alleviate the humanitarian situation on the ground. But they still face many difficulties. On the one hand, the people of Gaza have no access to water, electricity, food, fuel, and medicine. They simply lack the minimal supplies for survival. On the other hand, a large number of trucks delivering supplies are waiting in line while the supplies piled up at the warehouses in Al-Arish cannot be delivered in time to the people in need. What is even more worrying is that due to Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment, the humanitarian relief network comprising a number of UN agencies operating in Gaza is on the verge of paralysis, and the safety and security of their personnel cannot be guaranteed.

In this context, the UAE, on behalf of the Arab states, has tabled the draft text of a new Council resolution aimed at removing bottlenecks to humanitarian access and alleviating the humanitarian disaster in Gaza. The UAE has held extensive consultations with Council members on the draft text, listened to the views and opinions of UN humanitarian agencies, and gained the support of the majority of Council members. China has joined in the co-sponsorship of the draft resolution. We believe that no country should be hesitant, out of any reason, regarding this draft resolution. We urge relevant council member to take a constructive approach and support the Council in taking meaningful, life-saving, and immediate actions.

It should be noted that the UAE’s draft resolution is an emergency initiative to address the immediate urgent needs arising from the current humanitarian disaster in Gaza. Facing the prolonged Gaza conflict and the escalations in the West Bank, the Council must further play its due role and take actions for realizing a ceasefire and ending the fighting at early date, for restoring regional peace, and for upholding fairness and justice.

First, the realization of a ceasefire remains the overriding prerequisite. Only a ceasefire can prevent greater civilian casualties, including those of hostages. Only a ceasefire can prevent the regional conflict from spiraling out of control. And only a ceasefire can prevent the prospects of a political solution from being completely killed. The international community has repeatedly and overwhelmingly called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Yet Israel continues its bombing and shelling. Schools, hospitals, mosques, Christian churches, and refugee camps have been repeatedly targeted in military operations. There can be no justification for such attacks. It must be pointed out that causing more civilian casualties in Gaza will not hold the solution for rescuing the hostages, nor will that lead to greater security for any party. We urge Israel to immediately reverse its course of action and stop its indiscriminate military attacks and collective punishment against the people of Gaza.

Second, every effort must be made to prevent the West Bank situation from getting out of control. While the eyes of the international community are focused on Gaza, violence committed by the Israeli army and settlers in the West Bank has intensified. Searches, arrests, and attacks against Palestinians happen on a daily basis with appalling frequency and intensity, and have resulted in a large number of Palestinian casualties. Settlement activities violate international law and Council Resolution 2334 and continue to erode the foundation of the two-State solution. We urged Israel, as the occupying power, to comply with its obligations under international law, cease all settlement activities, and effectively curb settler violence, so as to put an end to impunity.

Third, the two-State solution must be revitalized with maximum political determination. The two-State solution is the only way out for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It is also the broad consensus of the international community. The main reason the Israeli-Palestinian issue has long failed to be resolved is precisely because the two-State solution has not been implemented. We are extremely concerned about the recent public rejection of the two-State solution by some politicians, China calls for greater international and regional diplomatic efforts to reaffirm the commitment to the two-State solution, revitalize the political prospects of the two-State solution, and restart direct negotiations between Palestine and Israel. Undoubtedly, any solution to the question of Palestine should respect the will of the Palestinian people and the legitimate concerns of the countries of the region, and should not deviate from the basic direction of the two-State solution. China calls for the convening of an international peace conference that is larger in scale, scope, and effects and for the formulation of a timetable and a roadmap so that the two-State solution can truly be realized.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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