Interview: Palestinians refreshened with China's new peace initiative: official

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-14 18:58:55|Editor: Mengjie
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RAMALLAH, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians are encouraged by the new peace initiative launched by China to push forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a senior Palestinian official told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Nabil Shaath, foreign affairs adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, praised China for having been "always an ally to the Palestinians by supporting their independence and self--determination."

During his meeting with Abbas in July, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a new four-point proposal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which affirms China's support for a two-state solution to the Palestine issue, and for the establishment of an independent, fully sovereign Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

"I think it is very encouraging for us that China will support a just peace process in the Middle East," Shaath said.

On the July visit to China by Abbas, Shaath said the result was "very positive."

Xi's proposal calls for restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stalled since 2014 as soon as possible and a halt to Israeli settlement expansion.

Notably, it advocates promoting peace between Israel and Palestinians through advancing economic development in the Palestinian territories.

Under the proposal, China offers to host a symposium on peace between Palestine and Israel later this year, and launch a tripartite China-Palestine-Israel dialogue mechanism on coordinating the implementation of major assistance programs in Palestine in line with China's Belt and Road Initiative.

China pledged to take concrete measures to support Palestine's economic development, such as encouraging Chinese companies to build industrial parks and solar power plants.

"China is really playing a new role, but that role is not really difficult to understand, as it represents the increased importance of China's role in the global affairs with the growth of the Chinese economy into one of the top two in the world," said Shaath, a former Palestinian chief negotiator and cabinet minister.

Shaath said that as the world is becoming multi-polar, the United States is no longer a monopoly in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian peace.

He also mentioned the initiative launched by France to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which included the hosting of an international conference in Paris in January that China also took part.

"After Abbas came back from China, he was encouraged. His trip was really very successful and there was a discussion of China's entry into the political process leading us to peace through negotiations," said Shaath.

"The four--point proposal by China is totally acceptable to us," he said, calling it the "Chinese Peace Initiative."

"Abbas was very much encouraged by China's support to his determination to establish an independent state and to stop the colonial settlement by Israel in the West Bank and Jerusalem," said Shaath.

The senior Palestinian politician noted that the new Chinese initiative came at a time when there was renewed violence between Israel and the Palestinians in East Jerusalem in July due to the Israeli moves to impose stricter control over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Many blamed the renewed violence on the continued deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who visited Israel and Palestine in May during his first foreign trip, has sent envoys, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, to the region recently in a bid to restart the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

But no breakthrough has been achieved so far, as Israel continues expansion of settlements. And the Trump administration, distracted by the political turmoil back home over the investigation into Trump's possible collusion with Russia during last year's presidential campaign, has apparently lost its interest after an initial trial.

The new role by China, which has always held an impartial and objective stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, in the peacemaking efforts is "complementary" and brings new hope for the Palestinians, Shaath said.

"I believe that China can play a more important and powerful role through its important global political and economic influence," said Shaath, adding Palestinians need another powerful country like China "to help acquire a balance and achieve peace."

KEY WORDS: peace