China expresses support for Palestine’s full UN membership ahead of Security Council

JAKARTA: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and also expressed China’s support for Palestine over the upcoming UN Security Council (UNSC) vote on its full UN membership, which is likely to be blocked by Israeli ally the US.

Although the Palestinian Authority is unlikely to be granted full UN membership, which would mean a recognition of statehood, analysts said the UN vote would bring the issue of Palestinian statehood back to the UN stage, which is of positive significance for pushing the international community to forge more consensus on the issue.

Regardless of the result, the vote will also put further moral and political pressure on the US and Israel, increasing the isolation of the two countries on the global stage when the majority of the world’s countries have already recognized a Palestinian state, analysts noted.

After a meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta on Thursday, Wang told media that China is deeply saddened by the humanitarian disaster caused by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and an unconditional and lasting cease-fire should be immediately realized and civilians should be effectively protected.

Wang said humanitarian relief mechanism should be established as soon as possible to ensure rapid, safe, barrier-free and sustainable access of humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Wang, China’s top diplomat, also called on relevant parties to maintain calm and restraint, avoid escalation of the situation and prevent spillover of the conflict.

China supports the UNSC in discussing and accepting Palestine’s full UN membership as soon as possible, and proposes that a larger, more authoritative and more effective international peace conference be convened to formulate a timetable and road map for the implementation of the “two-state solution,” Wang said.

Citing diplomats, Reuters said on Wednesday that the 15-member UNSC is scheduled to vote at 3 PM on Friday local time on a draft resolution to demand that the UN admit Palestine as a member. It’s the first vote of its kind in the UNSC since 2011, when Palestine halted its application after the US pledged to wield its veto.

UNSC member Algeria circulated a draft text on Tuesday, according to the Reuters report, which noted that Palestine is still pushing for the vote to be held as early as Thursday local time.

The UNSC resolution requires at least nine votes in favor, and no vetoes by the five UNSC’s five permanent members – China, Russia, France, UK, and the US – before the application moves to the 193-member UN General Assembly (UNGA), where Palestine needs to get a two-thirds majority.

According to a report from news site Axios on Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected a request from the Biden administration to block plans for the UNSC vote. Citing a US official, the report said that the Biden administration “is trying to prevent the Palestinians from getting the nine votes,” so the US will not need to veto the application by itself afterward.

Although it’s very likely that Palestine will be unable to obtain full UN membership due to the US’ block, the upcoming vote will bring the Palestinian statehood issue, the “two-state solution,” back to the center of the UN arena once again as an issue of common concern for the international community, Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Voting within the framework of the UN is of positive significance to pushing the international community to further forge a consensus recognizing the independent statehood of Palestine, especially the rights of Palestinians under international law, Liu noted.

With the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, France, Russia, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, UK, Australia and other countries have recently expressed support for the “two-state solution,” with many of them even considering recognizing the Palestinian state, according to media reports.

In contrast, US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told media on Wednesday that she did not believe the upcoming UN resolution would help lead to a “two-state solution.” Earlier this month, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told media that the US opposes a Palestinian push for full membership at the UN, as it backs statehood but only after direct negotiations with Israel, according to VOA.

Niu Xinchun, executive director of the China-Arab Research Institute of Ningxia University, told the Global Times on Thursday that six months after Israel launched the war in Gaza, an increasing number of countries, including some Western states, have changed their positions and expressed their opposition to Israel and its US ally.

Out of 193 UN member states, 139 have recognized Palestine’s statehood, including European countries such as Sweden, Hungary, Iceland, Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Poland and Romania, according to Al Jazeera.

Citing a high-ranking Israeli official, the report said eight UNSC members are expected to vote for Palestine, including China, Russia, Algeria, Malta, Slovenia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Guyana. The US and Israel are lobbying France, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea and Ecuador to vote against or abstain from voting, while the UK is expected to abstain.

If some of the US’ European allies do vote for Palestine this time, it would be a huge blow to the US and Israel, said Niu, “Europe is more sympathetic to Palestine and the new round of Israeli-Palestinian conflict has divided the US and its Western allies to some extent.”

The vote, even if it does not pass, will put moral and political pressure on the US and Israel, especially if another veto is used by Washington, which would make the US and Israel face greater isolation on the international stage, Niu said.

“The pressure from the international community will affect US support for Israel to some extent,” said Niu. “And it’s clearly not a good deal for the US to stand against the majority of countries in the world because of supporting Israel.”

After the cease-fire in the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel may come under unprecedented pressure from the international community in pushing forward negotiations on the basis of a “two-state solution,” although the eventual settlement of the conflict is still a very long and difficult process, Liu said.


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