Israel-Hamas. Beijing’s position. In dialogue with John Calabrese (Middle East Institute)

(Marco Emanuele)

The Global Eye in dialogue with John Calabrese (American University and Middle East Institute)

What is China doing in the war between Israel and Hamas?

Initially, China’s president, Xi Jinping, called for an immediate cease-fire while offering to coordinate with Egypt and other Arab nations “to push for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue as soon as possible.” Yesterday, however, Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly told his Israeli counterpart Eliot Cohen in a phone call that “Every country has the right to self-defense but should abide by international humanitarian law and protect civilians.” The latter comments appear to represent a shift to a more “balanced” position by Beijing – one that aligns with its standard approach to conflict, namely that of “neutrality.” The affirmation of Israel’s right to self-defense might also signify Beijing’s acknowledgment that an IDF land incursion into Gaza is a fait accompli. China’s change in position, it should be noted, comes ahead of Wang’s scheduled visit to the US this week for high-level meetings with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

At such a delicate time, which global players are really working on possible mediations and prospects? Do the Oslo Accords still make sense and is the ‘two Peoples, two States’ solution still realistic?

The US, European nations, Russia, China, and Turkey have all signaled that they would be keen to help. However, thus far it is regional actors – Egypt and Qatar – that have taken the lead in facilitating the provision of humanitarian assistance and negotiating the exchange of hostages for prisoners, respectively. With a ground assault looming, the US is focused on demonstrating steadfast support for Israel while at the same time leaning on its ally to exercise restraint as well as using diplomacy backed by deterrence to prevent an expansion of the war. How long this war lasts and how it is fought will determine whether Israeli-Palestinian peace is achievable. A two-state solution remains the only conceivable pathway to peace. The current conflict has made that end state ever more obvious, urgently necessary – and elusive.

Finally, how will the announced ground operation in Gaza change relations between external powers (USA and China, in particular) with respect to the future of the North Africa-Levant-Gulf area ?

In the past several years, relations between the US and China have steadily deteriorated. There are few areas where the two sides have acknowledged it may be possible to find common ground. Diplomatic coordination between Washington and Beijing to avert the expansion of the war in Gaza, minimize the further loss of life, and support efforts for an early cease-fire might prove helpful not just in the narrow sense of helping restore a semblance of calm to the region but in serving as evidence that the world’s two most powerful countries can work together to do so.

(riproduzione autorizzata citando la fonte)

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