China warns against more casualties as Security Council again delays Gaza vote


China reiterated its condemnation of Israel’s actions against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, warning that more civilian casualties would “not help security or rescue hostages”, as the UN Security Council delayed another resolution calling for a ceasefire and humanitarian access.

“There is no reason for any country to hesitate in the face of this draft resolution,” said Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the UN, at the council’s Tuesday meeting. He urged “concerned members” to support “swift and meaningful action to save lives”.

Zhang said a ceasefire remains “the overriding prerequisite”, adding that the Security Council must “play its due role and take action … to restore peace and uphold justice”.

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The draft resolution, raised by the United Arab Emirates, was delayed after days of negotiations. Similar resolutions have been overturned multiple times since the Israel-Gaza war erupted.

The US vetoed two resolutions in October and early December. China and Russia vetoed a resolution drafted by the US in November which required all parties to condemn the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

The Security Council – which approved one resolution in November, for a short-term truce and humanitarian access to Gaza – will attempt to hold another vote on the issue on Wednesday.

According to the region’s health authority, the death toll in Gaza is approaching 20,000, with more than 50,000 people injured and displaced, with minimal healthcare services working.

Israel’s military says it has killed some 7,000 militants in the Gaza ground offensive, with the loss of 131 of its soldiers.

Zhang condemned in strong terms Israel’s actions in Gaza, as well as its settlement activities and “violence” towards Palestinians in the West Bank.

“Israeli bombardment and shelling continue. Schools, hospitals, mosques, Christian churches and refugee camps have been repeatedly targeted in military operations, and there is no justification for such attacks,” he said.

“Violence by the Israeli army and settlers in the West Bank has also intensified. Searches, arrests and raids against Palestinians are occurring on a daily basis with appalling frequency and intensity and have resulted in a large number of Palestinian casualties.”

Beijing supports an independent Palestine based on the pre-1967 borders, which would require the dismantling of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which have been steadily expanding in the areas under Israel’s administration.

Around 60 per cent of the West Bank is Israeli-controlled since the region was divided into three under the Oslo Accords in the 1990s. The Palestinian Authority – set up as an interim governing body for a future state – has sole control of less than 20 per cent.

“Settlement activity has eroded … the basis of a two-state solution. We urge Israel, as an occupier, to fulfil its obligations under international law, cease all settlement activities, effectively curb settler violence and end impunity,” Zhang said.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.


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