Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted a group of Arab foreign ministers in Beijing on Monday for a discussion of the Gaza war.
The meeting was decidedly pro-Hamas in tone, with China demanding an immediate ceasefire to protect the terrorist organization, demanding a state for the Palestinians, and criticizing Israel’s counter-terrorist operation in Gaza.
The meeting included the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, plus the Palestinian Authority and Indonesia.
“China is a good friend and brother of Arab and Islamic countries. We have always firmly safeguarded the legitimate rights and interests of Arab (and) Islamic countries and have always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people,” Wang said when he convened the meeting, as quoted by the Associated Press (AP).
The AP noted that China has “long backed the Palestinians” and has stubbornly refused to criticize the hideous atrocities perpetrated against Israeli civilians on October 7. No denunciation of the Hamas atrocities was reported at the dialogue in Beijing.
Instead, the meeting was entirely concerned with criticizing the Israeli response to the Hamas attacks and pushing for a ceasefire in Gaza. The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the meeting resolved to halt Israel’s “military escalation” in Gaza and “hold the Israeli occupation accountable for the blatant violations and crimes in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank.”
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“There are still dangerous developments ahead of us and an urgent humanitarian crisis that requires an international mobilization to deal with and counter it,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud said on Monday, demanding an immediate ceasefire.
“This isn’t Israel’s first war against the Palestinian people. However, Israel wants this to be its last war, where it takes full control of the Palestinian people’s presence on what’s left of the historical land of Palestine,” said the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki.
China’s state-run Global Times found no room to mention Hamas until near the end of its lengthy article on the Beijing dialogue when it admitted Hamas is still holding some 240 hostages and might be getting close to a deal to release about 50 of them in exchange for a lopsided payoff of Palestinian prisoners plus a temporary ceasefire.
The bulk of the article chronicled China’s diplomatic efforts on behalf of Hamas, including demands for a ceasefire and a major diplomatic push to carve a Palestinian state out of Israel. Wang is scheduled to continue this campaign in a virtual summit of BRICS members on Tuesday night.
“The U.N. Security Council must listen to the voices of Arab and Islamic countries and take responsible actions to cool down the situation,” Wang said.
China currently holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, which passed its first resolution on the Gaza war last Wednesday without condemning the Hamas atrocities. The United States and the United Kingdom abstained from the vote because the resolution did not denounce Hamas.
Wang said the Arab leaders making Beijing the first stop in their crusade for a ceasefire demonstrated “a high degree of trust in China” and reflected their understanding that “China is a good friend and a good brother of Arab and Islamic countries.”
“China has always firmly upheld the legitimate rights and interests of Arab and Islamic countries and firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate national rights and interests,” he said, claiming:
China has firmly stood on the side of justice and fairness, has been working hard to de-escalate the conflict, protect civilians, expand humanitarian aid, and prevent humanitarian disasters, and has been calling for a return to the two-state solution and the early settlement of the Palestinian question.
Beijing does not seem terribly interested in “justice” for the 1,200 Israelis raped, tortured, murdered, and kidnapped by Hamas. Instead, Wang told the conference that Israel must “stop its collective punishment on the people of Gaza and open up a humanitarian corridor as soon as possible to prevent a humanitarian crisis of a larger scale from taking place.”
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CNN noted on Tuesday that China appears to be rejecting President Joe Biden’s efforts to portray Hamas as a terrorist organization distinct from the Palestinian people. China almost never mentions Hamas by name in its statements on the Gaza war, instead referring to the “Palestinians” as the party Israel is at war with.
Israel’s ambassador to China, Irit Ben-Abba, said at a press briefing on Monday that “now is not the time” for China and Arab leaders to push for a unilateral ceasefire. She wondered why the U.N. Security Council under China’s presidency was not demanding the “unconditional release of the 240 hostages” kidnapped by Hamas “rather than calling for a ceasefire.”
“Putting pressure on Israel in this regard is politically motivated and is not conducive to the humanitarian assistance which is needed,” Ben-Abba said.