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China seeks cooling of Mideast violence

By WANG LINYAN at the United Nations | | Updated: 2018-05-15 17:05

China on Tuesday called for both sides, particularly the Israeli side, to avoid further escalation of tensions in the Middle East after clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces led to heavy casualties.

At least 60 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,200 injured on Monday at the Gaza border as Palestinians protested against the US moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to Palestinian officials.

At the United Nations Security Council emergency meeting on Tuesday, Ma Zhaoxu, China's permanent representative to the UN, expressed opposition against violence targeting civilians and urged an independent investigation to determine what had happened on Monday.

"Actions targeting civilians jeopardized the prospects for peace. Instead, efforts must be made to encourage the resumption of peace talks," Ma said.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the core issues of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

The final status of Jerusalem can only be achieved through dialogue and negotiations, Ma said.

The international community must adhere to the relevant resolutions, the land-for-peace initiative and the peace process, Ma said, while calling upon the international community to scale up support for basic services and infrastructure in Gaza.

China supports Palestinians to resume their legitimate national rights and interests. It supports the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty based on the 1967 borders through negotiation under a two-state solution. 

Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in his briefing at the council: "For the people of Gaza, yesterday was a day of tragedy.

"Israel has a responsibility to calibrate its use of force, to not use lethal force, except as a last resort, under imminent threat of death or serious injury," he said. "It must protect its borders from infiltration and terrorism, but it must do so proportionally."

He also called on Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, not to use the protests as a diversion for carrying out violent attacks at the border and provoke Israeli forces.

"Its operatives must not hide among the demonstrators and risk the lives of civilians," he said.

Some had said that yesterday's opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem was the reason for the violence, but that event did not undermine the prospects for peace, said Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN.

Riyad Mansour, permanent observer for Palestine, called on the council to take decisive action to stop the violence. He said urgent action was needed to save the lives of civilians and prevent the situation from deteriorating further.  

Danny Danon, Israel's ambassador to the UN, said his country had faced violent riots at the security fence with the Gaza Strip. He said Hamas use innocent people in Gaza as human shields.

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