Chinese President Xi Jinping informed his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, in Beijing on Wednesday that China is ready to play a constructive role in assisting the Palestinians to establish internal harmony and advance peace negotiations with Israel.
According to Chinese official media, Xi stated that “the fundamental solution to the Palestinian issue lies in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
In the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem—territories Israel conquered during the Middle East conflict of 1967—Palestinians are vying for independence. While continuing to build settlements in the West Bank and designating Jerusalem as its eternal, indivisible capital, Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005.
United States-mediated peace negotiations fell in 2014, and there is no sign of a comeback.
At a welcome ceremony for Abbas at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Xi said, “We have always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights.”
Since Abbas’ last visit in 2017, China has consistently touted its mediation skills, but little has come of it until it brokered a surprise agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to resume diplomatic relations in March. China and the Palestinians have had historically positive relations.
After failing to meet with American leaders when in New York for the United Nations General Assembly last year, Abbas is in Beijing for a three-day visit in which he wanted to show Chinese support for a Palestinian state.
The establishment of Jewish settlements, according to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week, would be a barrier to peace while also pledging ongoing U.S. support for Israel’s security and a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian issue.
Analysts claim that another challenge is the internal conflict among Palestinians. The Islamist Hamas organization that controls Gaza has vowed to destroy Israel and is opposed to a diplomatic settlement. Abbas is the head of the Palestinian Authority, which has negotiated with Israel and has some autonomy in the West Bank.