China will do utmost to contribute to Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation – state media

By Liz Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) -China will do its utmost when it comes to contributing to Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation, its foreign minister told his Israeli counterpart in a phone call on Monday, according to Chinese state media.

China will firmly support any resolution as long as it is conducive to peace, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Israel’s Eli Cohen, calling the conflict a “major choice between war and peace”, state media said on Tuesday.

Wang also called for Israel to take effective measures to protect the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in the Middle East, adding that “all countries have the right to self-defence, but they should abide by international humanitarian law and protect the safety of civilians.”

China has condemned violence and attacks on civilians in the conflict, and while Wang has declared Israel’s actions “beyond the scope of self-defence” he has not named Hamas in his comments.

In a separate phone conversation with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, Wang said he “deeply sympathises” with the people of Gaza and that what they need most are security and efforts to stop war and promote peace, not weapons or geopolitical calculations.

China calls for the convening of a “more authoritative, wide-ranging and effective international peace conference” soonest to promote the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Wang said.

“The UN Security Council should effectively shoulder its responsibility, the international community must act urgently, and countries outside the region, especially major powers, should be objective and impartial,” he said.

The crisis has put China and Russia in separate camps from the United States over the conflict.

China and Russia share the same position that the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people have not been met. While the US has denounced the Hamas attack, fully supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.

China, which has repeatedly urged a ceasefire, also made clear its present warships in the Middle East were part of routine escort missions and friendly visits, and not an interference in the conflict, state-controlled Global Times said.

The newspaper said the spokesperson at the Chinese embassy in the US has called for an end to the “groundless hyping” over the deployment of Chinese warships to the Middle East in response to reports about several warships stationed in the region.

(Reporting by Liz Lee and Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Michael Perry)