Pacific Dialogue
Time to cease fire
By Liang Xiao  ·  2023-11-26  ·   Source: NO.48 NOVEMBER 30, 2023

A joint delegation of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), comprising foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Palestine and secretary general of the OIC, arrived in Beijing on November 20. This was the first stop of the Islamic world's global mediation trip on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

During talks with Wang Yi, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese Foreign Minister, the delegation expressed concerns regarding the large number of civilian casualties and continued humanitarian disasters in the Gaza Strip. Foreign ministers of these countries requested the international community take responsible action as soon as possible to promote an immediate ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, and said they look forward to closer coordination with China to restart the peace talk process.

At the time the delegation of Arab-Islamic foreign ministers visited China, the death toll on both sides had exceeded 15,500, of which Palestinians in the Gaza Strip accounted for the majority with more than 14,000 deaths, including 5,840 children.

Beijing is the starting point of the delegation's "journey of peace," not only because China is the rotating chair of the UN Security Council in November, but also because of the Islamic world's increasing confidence in China's role in international affairs. Through China's mediation, long-time regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran achieved reconciliation in March and restored diplomatic relations the following month. In May, a poll conducted for Saudi Arabia-based newspaper Arab News by British pollster YouGov found that the majority of Palestinian respondents (80 percent) welcome China as a potential peace broker in the conflict with the Israel, with the U.S. seen as the least trusted mediator.

China has been calling for peace and continues to provide emergency humanitarian supplies to civilians in Gaza. Its top envoy to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, called on the international community to increase efforts in advancing the political prospects of the two-state solution of the Palestinian question on

November 23. The two-state resolution, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, has been the goal of the international community for decades, dating back to the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Many nations consent this is the only way out of the conflict. In addition to supporting this solution, China emphasizes that any arrangement concerning the future and destiny of Palestine must be based on the consent of the Palestinian people and accommodate the legitimate concerns of countries in the region.

After all, even the groups most supportive of Israel cannot deny the reality that Gaza is a de facto "open-air concentration camp." In despair, rising up to resist seems to be one of the few options available to those who live in Gaza.

Although the U.S. official stance is crystal clear, no one can deny that the role of the country in resolving the Palestinian question remains crucial. The U.S. is Israel's most important ally and one of the few countries that can influence the Benjamin Netanyahu administration's foreign policy. If the U.S. can persuade Israel to deal with the crisis in a rational and restrained manner, and at the same time encourage Western society to play a more active role in resolving the Palestinian question together with China, Brazil, South Africa and other developing countries, it will make large contributions to a permanent ceasefire.

A tiny piece of good news is that in the early morning of November 22, the Israeli Government and Hamas agreed to uphold a brief ceasefire in Gaza to allow for the release of 50 hostages captured during Hamas's assault in October on Israel and the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

This conflict has lasted for nearly 80 years and the blood feud of several generations cannot be erased in the short term, but at least a temporary ceasefire has given the world a hope for peace.

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson

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