Envoy to visit and discuss Gaza crisis
Updated: 2012-11-22 08:07
By Agencies in Beijing and Tel Aviv (China Daily)
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby (center) and Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (third from left) touch the hand of a Palestinian boy, who according to Palestinian medics was wounded in an Israeli airstrike, at a hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday. A delegation of nine Arab ministers visited Gaza in a further signal of heightened Arab solidarity with the Palestinians. Ahmed Zakot / Reuters
China will host an envoy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the crisis in Gaza, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday, adding the government had been in touch with all players in the conflict to try and find a solution.
China backs the mediation efforts made by Egypt and other Arab states as well as the Arab League to ease the current situation in Gaza, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday.
Hua made the remarks at a daily news briefing in response to a question on whether China plans to send envoys to the Middle East to act as mediators in the ongoing conflict.
"China is paying great attention to the situation in the Gaza Strip," Hua told reporters.
The special envoy of the Palestinian president, Bassam al-Salhi, will visit China from Thursday to Saturday, Hua said.
As for the agenda of the upcoming visit, Hua said the details are still being arranged.
The situation in Gaza will highlight the visit, as Palestine hopes China can contribute more to solve the problem, she added.
China is very important to Palestine's economy and the Palestinian authority's efforts to be admitted by the UN General Assembly, said Wang Jinglie, a researcher on Middle East studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
China has expressed grave concerns over the current military action taken by Israel in the Gaza, and condemns the violence that has caused civilian casualties, said the spokeswoman.
She urged Israel and other parties concerned in the Gaza conflict to show maximum restraint, reach an immediate cease-fire and avoid escalating the situation.
Unlike the US, EU, Russia and UN - the four external parties involved in the Palestine-Israel negotiation, China has no preference for Palestine or Israel. The objective foothold means China has more flexibility to mediate in the thorny issue, said Wang.
In addition, unlike other parties involved, China does not have special national interests in Gaza, so Beijing can handle the case in a more neutral manner, said Hua Liming, former ambassador to Iran, UAE and the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi discussed the situation with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, expressing China's support for Egypt and other Arab states, Hua said.
"We will continue to make unremitting efforts to mitigate the situation between Palestine and Israel and maintain peace and stability in the region in our own way," she said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are both in Israel.
Ban met Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday, while Clinton met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late on Tuesday night.
The spokeswoman said China supports necessary actions taken by the international community, including the UN Security Council.
According to the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health, 136 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip since last Wednesday, with more than 1,000 others wounded.
Meanwhile, Israel has reported that five Israelis have been killed in Palestinian rocket attacks.
In a separate development, a bomb exploded on a bus in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday, wounding at least 10 people in what officials said was a terrorist attack that could complicate efforts to secure a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.
The blast shattered windows on the bus, which was driving along a tree-lined street next to Israel's huge defense ministry complex. Israel's ambulance service said three of the wounded were in severe condition.
"This was a terrorist attack," said Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Netanyahu.
In a message on Twitter, he said police were combing the area for the person who planted the device, confirming reports that it was not a suicide attack. Israeli media said a man had been arrested.
(China Daily 11/22/2012 page11)