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Immediate cease-fire in Gaza is imperative: Chinese envoy

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-23 06:01

UNITED NATIONS -- A Chinese envoy said Thursday that an immediate cease-fire in Gaza is imperative and that the essence of any Security Council action is to achieve an immediate cease-fire.

The US veto of an Algerian-drafted resolution on Tuesday meant that the Security Council missed yet another opportunity to push for a cease-fire in Gaza. The continuation of the conflict even for another day would cause even more civilian casualties and lead to a greater catastrophe. An immediate cease-fire in Gaza is an urgent imperative to save innocent lives and to prevent a wider war, said Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations.

"An immediate cease-fire is the common wish voiced by the international community and the consensus of the Security Council's overwhelming majority," he told the Security Council.

China is aware that the United States has tabled its own draft resolution. China hopes that the United States will show a responsible attitude, respond positively to the international call, and respect the established consensus among Security Council members, said Zhang.

"We need to point out that the essence of any action of this council is to achieve an immediate cease-fire. Any message sent out via our action must be clear, unequivocal, unambiguous, and unmistakable, rather than prevaricate or beat about the bush," he said. "At this point, the Council needs to demonstrate a strong resolve rather than negotiating skills only."

The military offensive into Rafah must cease immediately, he said.

Over 1.5 million Gazans are packed into Rafah, having nowhere else to go. Escalated Israeli military incursions into Rafah will result in unthinkable civilian casualties and humanitarian disasters and cause irreparable damage to regional peace. China strongly opposes such actions. Israel should immediately cancel its plans to attack Rafah and halt its collective punishment of the Palestinian people. The International Court of Justice's order of provisional measures aimed at preventing genocide must be effectively implemented without delay, he said.

It is imperative to ensure sufficient unimpeded humanitarian deliveries into Gaza. Israel must take concrete action to open all land, sea, and air routes into Gaza, provide all that is required by humanitarian agencies for their relief operations, and ensure the safety and security of the staff and facilities of humanitarian agencies, he said.

Zhang also called for efforts to prevent the conflict in Gaza from spilling over to the wider region.

Exchanges of fire between Lebanon and Israel and between Syria and Israel are escalating. Tensions in the Red Sea are continuing. And the specter of wider war is looming over the Middle East. China calls on the parties concerned, especially those with significant influence, to exercise calm and restraint and to refrain from acts that would aggravate the tensions. Parties should endeavor to stop war through peace and break the vicious circle of violence and conflict, he said.

The political horizon offered by the two-state solution must be given a new lease on life. Independent Palestinian statehood is not a gift given by one party to another in charity, but an inalienable right of the Palestinian people, said Zhang.

China is gravely concerned by the recent repeated public dismissal of the two-state solution by some Israeli politicians and their rejection of any international effort toward independent Palestinian statehood. Gaza is an inalienable part of Palestine, and the two-state solution is the bottom line of international justice and the only viable path toward the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli issue. China urges Israel to stop without delay eroding the foundation of the two-state solution, halt the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, and cease the searches, arrests, and raids in the West Bank, he said.

The historical wrongs suffered by Palestine must be righted. Palestine's aspiration for independent statehood must be fulfilled. China supports Palestine in becoming a member of the United Nations as soon as possible, and calls for the convening of a larger, more authoritative, and more effective international peace conference to push for a comprehensive, just, and lasting solution to the question of Palestine, he said.

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