China called for an “immediate ceasefire” and reiterated support for an independent Palestinian state after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel that shattered regional stability.
“The recurrence of the conflict shows once again that the protracted standstill of the peace process cannot go on,” a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement Sunday. It repeated Beijing’s support for a “two-state solution,” calling it the fundamental way out of the conflict.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his country is “at war” after Gaza Strip militants fired over 3,000 missiles and infiltrated Israel’s southern parts early Saturday. The combined death toll from the Hamas attack and Israel’s subsequent air strikes in Gaza has climbed to more than 1,100. Hamas has also taken scores of Israeli hostages.
Peace talks around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have stalled since 2014. Last year was one of the deadliest in the conflict, according to the UN, as violence flared between the two sides.
China is “deeply concerned” over the intensifying violence and called for the international community to act with greater urgency on the Palestinian issue, it said in the statement. “China will continue to work relentlessly with the international community towards that end,” it added.
One Chinese-Israeli woman was among those who had been kidnapped by Hamas, the Israeli embassy in Beijing wrote Sunday in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Separately, a Chinese worker in southern Israel was hospitalized after being hit by a stray bullet, according to China’s state-run Global Times newspaper.
The Israeli embassy in Beijing said in another post on X that it was “grateful” to all countries that stand with Israel. “We also hope that China can show solidarity and support to Israel at this difficult moment,” it wrote.
In June, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed an international peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said he was was willing to “play an active role” in facilitating peace talks, as he sought to bolster his image as a mediator in the Middle East.
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The Chinese leader also called for the territory to become a “full member” of the United Nations during Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ trip to Beijing that month. Xi has yet to make a public statement on the violence from the weekend.
China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has been increasingly vocal on Israeli-Palestinian issues as it tries to raise its presence in the Middle East.
In March, it helped broker a tentative detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia, after years of diplomatic deadlock between the historic rivals. The deal marked a departure from Beijing’s long-stated reluctance to involve itself in foreign disputes.
Xi also hosted Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in China last month, marking the first time the Arab leader had visited China in nearly 20 years, as Beijing builds closer ties with the Arab world.
—With assistance from Rebecca Choong Wilkins and Jing Li.