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The Need for Israel-Palestine Peace Talks

Oct 15 , 2014
  • Wu Sike

    Member on Foreign Affairs Committee, CPPCC

The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Cairo carry high hopes for an agreement on a permanent truce and ending the humanitarian disasters in Gaza. The people in Gaza have lost too much as a result of the violent conflicts that have lasted weeks. Loved ones, hospitals, schools…everything has been destroyed. The conflicts have left more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis dead and more than 10,000 people injured. About 16,800 houses in Gaza have been destroyed or severely damaged, affecting 100,000 Palestinians. Even the 108 UN-sponsored refuge settlements have suffered different degrees of damage. The damage inflicted on Gaza is unprecedented. According to initial official statistics by the Palestinians, military attacks on the Gaza Strip have resulted in $5 billion of economic losses. Reconstruction will entail multiple rounds of international efforts. The Israelis have also suffered an economic loss of $1.6 billion.

The sad losses are convincing proof that the only way out is to break the vicious cycle of tit-for-tat violence through negotiations, and to work out a solution to the fundamental causes of the frequent conflicts over Gaza. Persistent Israeli-Palestinian conflicts have led to constant racial, religious and sectional contradictions that have continuously fermented and spread out, creating tremendous threats to peace, security and development of the Middle East. Seven years of blockades have caused the continuous escalation of poverty, backwardness and instability in Gaza. The military attacks on Gaza have further reduced the area into the most turbulent area in the world. For many years, the international community has constantly reached out to the Palestinian people, trying to mitigate their woes and help them get rid of the troubles through efforts such as rebuilding assistance. But a fundamental solution entails much more.

The top priority is ceasefire. The longer military actions drag on, the more lives will be lost. Since the international community shares the hope for an immediate truce agreement and solution to the Israel-Palestine conflicts, there should be an international synergy to facilitate the political resolution of the issue. As a friend of both Israel and Palestine, China has made persistent efforts for a fair and lasting solution for the conflict. As soon as the current round of attacks began, China began to appeal for ceasefire and made various endeavors in that regard. As a special envoy to the Middle East, the author visited Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, and Qatar from July 7 to July 25, extensively consulting, even meeting with Hamas leaders in Qatar, trying everything possible to broker a truce deal. An Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire was also the focus of discussions when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Egypt and the Arab League headquarters in early August. The five-point Chinese peace proposal Wang put forward in Cairo and Egypt’s proposal complement each other very well, meet the imperative needs for easing the dangerous regional situation, and reflect the common wish of the international community. According to Zakaria A. D. of the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China’s five-point proposal “pointed out the essence of the problem, put forward strategic goals, and showed the path clearly”.

China also attaches great importance to the United States’ role in the Middle East, and believes it is indispensable. Yet the US role is at the same time considerably constrained. On the Palestinian issue, the US has difficulty winning the trust of the Palestine and Arab nations for being excessively partial to Israel. However, hotspots such as Iraq are the consequences of the US opening a Pandora’s Box. Taking the “pivot to the Asia-Pacific” as the US strategic focus, the Obama Administration has hastily implemented a policy of withdrawal from the Middle East before numerous core concerns were properly addressed, thus worsening the chaos. As Obama’s second-term approaches its midpoint, people are watching how he will fulfill his two tasks in the Middle East during his presidency: Promoting the Middle East peace process and realizing peace in the area; and actively pressing ahead with the resolution of the Iran nuclear issue. Actually, China has been working hard for the same goals, because resolution to these two issues are cornerstones for stabilizing the Middle East and building a peaceful Middle East. But challenges abound on our way toward fulfilling both tasks.

Rome wasn’t built in one day. It won’t be easy to mitigate bloodshed in Palestine and Israel. Yet each step forward should be cherished and is worth working for. The creation of permanent peace is like piling up a mountain – each handful of earth counts. Peace in the Middle East will entail the concerted effort of the entire world. China and the US in particular should work closely together.

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