The Palestinian envoy to China called for Beijing to play a role in ending the Israel-Hamas war amid concerns of a wider conflict and rising humanitarian toll.
(Bloomberg) — The Palestinian envoy to China called for Beijing to play a role in ending the Israel-Hamas war amid concerns of a wider conflict and rising humanitarian toll.
“We would like to have China on board with all other players who can really put an end to this,” Ambassador Fariz Mehdawi told Bloomberg TV in an interview Monday. He cited moves currently underway by Western officials to try to prevent a spillover and called on Beijing to play its part, although he didn’t specify how. “We need to stop what’s going on. People are dying.”
The US and its allies are ratcheting up efforts to prevent further escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict, with President Joe Biden mulling a trip to Israel. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to return to the country for a second time since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, following earlier talks with Arab leaders.
Mehdawi’s comments are the latest in a chorus of voices looking for Beijing to step up its efforts at peacemaking. Speaking with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday, Blinken urged China to use its influence to prevent other actors from entering the conflict.
The Israeli ambassador to China previously called on Beijing to leverage its close relationship with Iran to rein in Hamas, which the European Union and the US have designated a terrorist organization.
Mehdawi downplayed the role of Iran, suggesting “the problem is at home here inside Palestine, inside Israel.” The US has been particularly concerned about Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia group in Lebanon, opening an additional front in the war on Israel’s northern border.
Earlier, the US said it held talks with Iran through back-channels and warned Tehran against escalating the conflict.
China has close relations with Iran, and assisted Tehran in brokering a landmark diplomatic detente with Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
“Israel’s actions have gone beyond self-defense and it should heed the call of the international community and the Secretary-General of the United Nations to stop its collective punishment of the people in Gaza,” Wang said during a phone conversation with his Saudi Arabian counterpart, according to a readout from the official Xinhua News Agency.
Residents in Gaza are bracing for a potential ground assault by the Israel Defense Forces. The United Nations said Friday the military had told its staff on the ground that all residents of northern Gaza — roughly half the territory’s population of over 2 million — had until midnight to relocate south. It called the task “impossible.”
–With assistance from Colum Murphy, Jing Li, Yvonne Man and Rishaad Salamat.
(Updates to include background on US-Iran talks. Corrects description of war in the first paragraph.)
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