China trying to end decades-old stalemate between Israel, Palestine

World Today

China trying to end decades-old stalemate between Israel, Palestine

Israel and Palestine took their struggle to the United Nations Security Council. Each side took aim at the other in the first meeting on the topic in 2018. China has typically stayed out of the fray, but is now taking a more active role in the search for peace, promoting a two-state solution.

CGTN UN Correspondent Liling Tan reports.
Follow Liling Tan on Twitter @LilingTan

Once again, the Security Council served as a platform for the Israelis and the Palestinians to take aim at each other, and for their allies to trade barbs.

“We have seen this demonization before,” Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour said. “It is repugnant, and we firmly reject it.”

“A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and the will to seek peace,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley criticized.

It’s a scene that has played out many times at the Security Council, where international attempts to resolve the conflict have borne little fruit. Now, however, China is undertaking a more active mediator role, building on a proposal by Chinese President Xi Jinping to end the conflict.

“China will proceed from this basis and endeavor to play a more constructive role in promoting a solution to the question of Palestine,” according to Chinese Ambassador Wu Haitao.

China’s proposal includes advancing the two-state solution based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. In December, Beijing held an Israeli-Palestinian peace symposium to try to ease tensions after an incendiary U.S. move to recognize contested Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

But over 6,000 kilometers from the conflict’s epicenter, how much leverage does China really have?

“The U.S. provides a tremendous amount of aid to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority, and so the U.S. has a lot of leverage,” according to Jonathan Cristol, a fellow at World Policy Institute. “I’m not quite sure what leverage China has to be able to pressure a settlement.”

At the U.N., there is talk, however, of China filling in funding gaps, the economic leverage it has from its Belt and Road Initiative, and its distance from the conflict. All of which could be advantages.

“China has sort of even-handed relations with the Arabs and the Israelis,” Ahmed Fathi, managing editor of American Televisions News, said. “They don’t have the historical involvement in the issue with regards to the Palestinian sufferings. So, China in a nutshell can be an honest mediator in this issue.”

But this is easier said than done. The Israelis and Palestinian have been in conflict for 70 years, and despite numerous attempts by multiple parties, a solution remains elusive.