Interview: China's initiatives fuel hopes for breakthrough in pushing forward Israeli-Palestinian peace process: Israeli expert

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-02 18:17:15|Editor: Liangyu
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by Xinhua writers Wang Bowen, Liu Xue

JERUSALEM, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- China's initiatives aimed at breaking the protracted Israeli-Palestinian peace stalemate fuel hopes for a breakthrough, Israel's former Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Vilnai was referring to China's interest in taking a bigger role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, with Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiling a four-point plan to push forward the peace talks deadlocked since 2014.

"It is good because it will be the first time that the Chinese (step in). It is good to have some new initiatives and new ideas," said Vilnai, who joined the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) after completing a four-year term as Israel's ambassador to China (2012-2016).

Vilnai, head of the INSS research program on Israel-China relations, said the mistrust between Israel and Palestine is too big a hurdle to leap over for the time being.

In his view, the lack of unified governance inside the Palestinian National Authority, the belief by some Arabs that Israel has no right to exist, and the ongoing attacks on Israelis, are among many issues that have increased the mistrust that dims the light of peace.

However, the initiatives by China, which has maintained friendly ties with both Israelis and Palestinians, fuel hopes for a possible breakthrough in the search for peace between the two sides, Vilnai said.

At a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Beijing in July, President Xi put forward a four-point plan for settling the Palestinian issue.

Xi said that China firmly advocates a political settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute based on the two-state solution, further coordinating the efforts of the international community and enhancing synergy of the peace efforts, and taking integrated measures to promote peace via development.

Specifically, the Chinese leader proposed hosting a peace symposium this year to be attended by both Israeli and Palestinian peace activists to contribute their wisdom to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Xi also proposed launching a tripartite dialogue mechanism among China, Palestine and Israel to promote major development projects of assisting the Palestinians.

Vilnai said he welcomes Xi's proposal to hold a symposium of peace activists from both Palestine and Israel to discuss how to solve the issue.

Gathering Israeli and Palestinian peace activists for a symposium can not only help China and the world at large know the complexity of the conflict, but also bring closer the two conflicting parties, Vilnai said.

Due to China's previous low-key profile on this issue, "the seminar is very important to show China's involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Vilnai pointed out.

"Public opinion is very important on this issue in Israel," he said, adding that China has to convince the Israelis that it can be a broker between Israelis and Palestinians.

While saying that mediating between the two sides can be unexpectedly challenging, Vilnai stressed that the symposium could be the first step in the long way to broker a peace deal based on the two-state solution.

KEY WORDS: peace