China’s foreign minister told his Palestinian and Israeli counterparts that the communist country is prepared to help facilitate peace talks between the sides in its most recent effort at mediation in the troubled region.
In separate phone calls to officials from both sides on Monday, Foreign Minister Qin Gang expressed that China is concerned over the growing tensions between Palestinians and Israel and its resumption of peace talks, said the Foreign Ministry in late Monday statements.
Last month, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed in China to restore diplomatic ties cut in 2016. The agreement was a dramatic diplomatic moment for China, touted as proof of its ability to be a crucial diplomatic player in the Middle East.
Qin emphasized in his discussions with Eli Cohen, Israeli Foreign Minister, that Iran and Saudi Arabia have set an excellent example of overcoming differences through dialogue, according to a statement about the call.
Foreign Minister Qin told Cohen that China encourages Palestinians and Israel to use political courage and take substantial steps to resume peace talks. “China is willing to provide convenience for this,” Qin said.
Palestinians and Israel haven’t held substantive peace talks in over a decade
The Palestinians and Israel haven’t yet held substantial peace talks on ending the prolonged conflict in over ten years. The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains committed to expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank — which many in the international community consider an obstacle to peace and illegal — along with several of his critical allies are vehemently opposed to the creation of an independent state of Palestine.
Cohen expressed Israel’s commitment to reducing tensions; however, he said the problem appeared to remain challenging to resolve in the short term, according to a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
In a statement, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that Cohen and Qin discussed “the importance of maintaining quiet at the Temple Mount, particularly in the final days of Ramadan,” which is the Muslim holy month; however, it made no mention of peace talks with the Palestinians.
According to the statement, Cohen conveyed “the threat that we see in Iran’s nuclear program” and called on Beijing to help prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Qin also reportedly told Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki that China is offering to play an active role in the resumption of talks.
Tuesday, Wang Wenbin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, confirmed Qin’s outreach to the two sides. “It is never too late to do the right thing,” he stated.
So far this month, violence in the West Bank and Israel has increased, set off by an Israeli police raid on the compound home to the Al-Aqsa mosque, Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site. The mosque sits atop a contested hilltop revered as Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third-holiest site. The Israeli military struck sites tied to Hamas, a Palestinian group, in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon after militants in the two territories fired rockets at Israel.