China’s representative to the United Nations criticized Israel’s illegal settlement plans in Palestine and called on the Netanyahu’s government to ‘immediately halt’ the actions.
During a United Nations Security Council’s meeting this Wednesday, China strongly rebuked Israel for its illegal developments of new settlements in Palestine. Speaking to the Security Council, Geng Shuang, China’s deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, stated that “since the beginning of this year, Israel has continued to advance unilateral actions on approving returns, building new settlements and legalizing settlements”.
China’s top diplomat also emphasized that such settlement building and activities violate international law and UN Security Council Resolution 2334, and urged Israel to immediately halt these actions and stop encroaching upon the land and resources of the Palestinian people”.
Since the new far-right government in Israel came to power early this year, Tel Aviv has dramatically increased the authorization of building illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories of Palestine. And just a few days before Shuang’s words, the Israeli government approved the proposed state budget for 2023-2024, which allocates around 3.5 billion Israeli shekels ($941 million) for illegal settlement projects and the upgrading of their infrastructure.
Latest reports indicate that there are around 700,000 illegal settlers living in 164 settlements and 116 outposts in the Occupied West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem, with that set to expand as Tel Aviv frequently approves thousands of more settlement units.
In his remarks in the UNSC meeting, Shuang also addressed recent provocative moves by Israeli officials in breaking into religious sites, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and stressed that the historical status quo of religious holy sites in Jerusalem must be respected.
Last but not least, China completely surprised Israel as Shuang indicated in his UN speech that his country “will continue to firmly support the Palestinian people and their just cause to restore their legitimate national rights, and support the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent state of Palestine based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
It was Netanyahu himself who bought China’s animosity
A few weeks before China openly declares its full support for Palestine, China’s foreign minister had two separate phone calls with his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, telling them that his country is ready to help facilitate peace talks between Israel and Palestine.
During the phone calls, Chinese foreign minister, Qin Gang encouraged “steps to resume peace talks,” and said that “China is ready to provide convenience for this”.
Back then, China used a much less angry tone against Israel and only tried to present itself as a mediator. During the phone call, Qin is reported to have told his Israeli counterpart that China is “concerned about the current tension between Israel and Palestine, and the current top priority is to bring the situation under control and prevent the conflict from escalating or even getting out of control.”
But despite China’s willingness to help both sides end, or at least alleviate, recent tensions, Netanyahu showed a cold shoulder to China and in response, only spoke of Israel’s commitment to the United States, a move that resented Beijing.
When asked last week in an interview with CNBC about China’s open arms for playing the role of mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he only said, “we respect China, we deal with China a great deal but we also know that we have an indispensable alliance with our great friend the United States”.