Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun speaks at the UN Security Council emergency meeting on the Palestinian-Israeli situation at the UN headquarters in New York, Nov. 10, 2023. (Xinhua/Xie E)
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, on Friday called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestine.
"A ceasefire and an end to the fighting cannot be delayed. A ceasefire is by no means a diplomatic statement. It is the only hope for the people of Gaza to survive," Zhang told the UN Security Council emergency meeting on the Palestinian-Israeli situation.
Noting that the current round of conflict has been going on for 35 days and the situation continues to deteriorate, he said: "We call on all parties, especially the major power that has a unique influence on the parties, to put aside all geopolitical considerations and double standards and focus all efforts on the goal of a ceasefire and an end to the fight. We urge Israel to curb the intensifying settler violence in the West Bank so as to avoid the concurring hotspot and the spread of conflict."
"When tens of thousands of people, including more than 4,000 children, have lost their lives; when more than 1.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes; when 2.3 million people continue to be cut off from water, electricity, fuel, food and medicine; and when hospitals, schools, refugee camps, and UN facilities have been frequently targeted, this is not only a humanitarian crisis, but, as described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a crisis of humanity," he added.
Zhang said he met with representatives of Palestine and other Arab countries and those from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation earlier in the day.
"From our conversation, I was deeply struck by the pain they have deep in their hearts, by their hope for the resumption of peace, and by their expectation for the Council to take effective actions," he said.
"In the face of all this, the world must speak out together: Enough is enough," Zhang said, adding that "the Security Council must do away with the obstruction and interference of some members and take immediate, responsible, and meaningful action to uphold justice and maintain peace."
Stressing the importance of protecting civilians, the envoy said, "We condemn all violence and attacks against civilians. We express our grave concern over and strong opposition to the clear violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza."
"We urge an end to the collective punishment of civilians. We demand the safety and humanitarian needs of hostages be guaranteed and call for diplomatic efforts to facilitate their early release," he added.
More than 1,300 children and their families are trapped in the rubble with their lives at stake, Zhang said, adding, "We support the Council to take emergency actions in this regard to facilitate a sustained truce of multiple days and an immediate opening of a green corridor for specialized agencies and equipment to enter Gaza to carry out search and rescue operations, so as to do our utmost to save children."
The Council should also respond to the joint appeal made by the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Marwan Jilani, Director General of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, to establish a medical evacuation mechanism so that pregnant women and the seriously injured and sick in Gaza can be transferred and treated promptly, he continued.
Zhang also called for the delivery of supplies to resume, noting it "cannot be delayed."
"We call on Israel to immediately lift the siege and completely remove restrictions on livelihood supplies, especially fuel delivery to humanitarian and medical institutions and livelihood facilities," he said.
Over the past two weeks, just over 500 trucks have entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing, a drop in the bucket for the people of Gaza who are struggling on the brink of death, Zhang said. "All crossings into Gaza should be utilized, and the Kerem Shalom crossing should be opened as soon as possible."
"These days, we also hear frequent discussions about the day after for Gaza. Regarding this, it must be pointed out that no arrangement for Gaza can be imposed on the Palestinian people," said the ambassador, adding that "No solution to the current situation can deviate from the two-state solution. The future of Palestine must be and can only be decided by the Palestinian people themselves."
The ambassador pledged that China, as president of the Security Council for November, would continue to work with the international community to bring an early end to the fighting and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
China supports a peaceful coexistence between the Palestinians and the Israelis and long-term peace and security in the Middle East, he said.