|Statement by Ambassador WANG Guangya at GA 61st Session on the Question of Palestine|
During the debate at this time last year on the situation in the Middle East, almost all the delegations present were filled with hope for peace in the Middle East and looking forward to seeing a "year of opportunities for the Middle East" gradually translate into reality. However, as we are assembled here again today, we find the Middle East "window of opportunity" still closed. Our hopes remain unfulfilled. Instead, to our profound grief and concern, we are witnessing more bloodshed and destruction.
Earlier this year, the Middle East experienced the darkest moments in its recent history. Two hot wars broke out between Palestine and Israel and between Lebanon and Israel. The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory has been continuously deteriorating. What had been accomplished over many years in the reconstruction of Lebanon was wiped out overnight, and Israeli people also sustained heavy losses. While focusing its attention on the Middle East, the international community again appealed for an end to the vicious cycle of countering violence with violence. Hatred and violence can only mean the end of peace, nor can military action bring about peace. Having gone through untold suffering for more than half a century, the people of the Middle East long for the dawn of peace and a tranquil life. This is a most fundamental human right and a most basic demand. While engaged in the discussions of "the responsibility to protect," the international community must not evade the following question: What protection have we ever provided to the Palestinian people?
China has always maintained that, as a first step toward peace, both the Palestinian and Israeli sides must cease all hostilities. Israel must immediately cease its military actions against Palestine, comply with international humanitarian laws, and ensure the safety of the Palestinian people and international relief workers. The Palestinian side must stop its rocket attacks against Israel. In this regard, we welcome the recent ceasefire agreement reached between Palestine and Israel. We hope both parties will honor their commitments and effectively implement the agreement. This should be immediately followed by a resumption of political negotiations and talks between the two sides. China is convinced that the right approach to solving the question of Palestine is to establish, through political negotiations, an independent Palestinian state that lives in peace side by side with Israel, on the basis of relevant UN resolutions and the principle of land for peace. This will serve the fundamental interests of the Palestinian and Israeli sides as well as the people of all Middle East countries, and will be conducive to the attainment of peace and stability in the region as soon as possible.
Peace between Palestine and Israel will not be possible without the vigorous support and engagement of the international community. We appreciate the positive efforts undertaken by the Quartet in advancing the peace process and hope it will take more proactive initiatives to push both parties to break the current impasse and fulfill the obligations laid down in the "road map." The international community must abide by the principles of objectivity, neutrality, and impartiality, giving equal attention and consideration to the legitimate concerns and demands of both sides. At this point in time, a number of new initiatives are in the making, including those proposed by Arab countries, France, Italy, and Spain. China appreciates and supports all initiatives that would help break the current impasse and bring Palestine and Israel back to the negotiation table. The UN and the Security Council, as important organs responsible for world pace and security, should effectively shoulder their responsibilities in this regard.
The negotiations between Syria and Israel and between Lebanon and Israel are part and parcel of the Middle East peace process. A proper solution to the disputes on these two tracks is indispensable for comprehensive peace in the Middle East region. Expeditious resumption of these negotiations and their progress will help bring about comprehensive peace in the region. We hope countries concerned will resume negotiations at an early date in search of a mutually acceptable solution pursuant to the principles set forth at the Madrid conference.
The vulnerable Lebanese situation is currently under a great deal of attention. China strongly condemns the assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, and hope that the Lebanese people will remain united as they go through this difficult time. It is our hope that both sides will effectively implement Security Council resolution 1701 as an important step toward the solution of the conflict between Lebanon and Israel. We look forward to the early submission of a long-term political plan by the UN Secretary General for the solution to the conflict between Lebanon and Israel.
China is deeply concerned about the Middle East situation. Since the recent eruption of conflicts between Palestine and Israel and between Lebanon, China has been talking to Israel, Palestine and Lebanon, appealing for restraint and for efforts to settle the differences through negotiations. China has also provided humanitarian assistance to Lebanon and Palestine to the best of our ability and, as called for by the UN, participated in the expansion of UNIFIL.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, China has always supported a greater role by the UN and the Security Council in taking the Middle East peace process forward. China will, as always, work with all peace-loving forces to continue to play a constructive role for a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Thank you, Madam President.