The ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel has taken center stage once again after an unexpected attack by Hamas militants resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives. The crisis, characterized by Israel’s declaration of a state of war and massive bombardments in Gaza, is increasingly seen as evidence that without a two-state solution, peace remains a distant dream.
A Shattered Peace Effort and A Call for Calm
China, a major player on the global stage, underlined on Sunday the importance of reviving the two-state solution as the primary path towards lasting peace. The Chinese standpoint emphasizes the creation of an independent Palestinian state. In light of the escalation, China’s call for relevant parties to maintain peace and prevent further escalation is not just timely but necessary.
Observers in China have noted that the abrupt attack by Hamas, possibly aimed at disrupting the U.S.-backed normalization efforts between Saudi Arabia and Israel, has thrown a dark cloud over recent peace and reconciliation initiatives in the Middle East. There’s a growing consensus among these experts that without addressing the core issues between Palestine and Israel, such peace efforts might remain transient.
The repercussions of the conflict aren’t confined to Palestine and Israel. They could also pose challenges to Washington’s policies in the region, especially the establishment of a new U.S.-backed trade route between India and the Middle East, seen by many as a counter to China’s influence.
A Day of Sudden Chaos and Destruction
The suddenness and scale of the attack by Hamas militants were unprecedented. Thousands of rockets were launched, and militants infiltrated Israeli towns near Gaza, marking their aggression on a significant Jewish holiday. The fallout was immediate and catastrophic. Israeli media reported a death toll of 600. Palestinian authorities, on the other hand, noted that over 300 lives were lost in Gaza. However, they didn’t specify the division between civilians and fighters.
Reacting swiftly, Israel’s security cabinet declared a state of war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressing Israel’s sentiment, promised a strong retaliation against Hamas. He highlighted that the war, a result of a brutal attack by Hamas, would be neither short nor easy.
China’s Perspective and Response
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs voiced deep concerns about the deteriorating situation. In an official statement, they called on involved entities to exercise restraint, prioritize civilian safety, and curtail further escalation.
The repeated outbreaks of conflict underscore that the stalemate in the peace process is untenable. China’s spokesperson emphasized that genuine peace hinges on embracing the two-state solution and championing an independent Palestinian state. The global community, they argued, must intervene more decisively to encourage peace talks and pave the way for long-standing tranquillity.
China reaffirmed its commitment to collaborate with global partners to achieve this peace. Additionally, the Chinese embassy in Israel and the Chinese office in Palestine cautioned Chinese citizens in the region, urging them to stay vigilant and prioritize safety.
A Chinese national stranded at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv recounted the ground reality: continuous alarms, streets swarming with armed soldiers, and the haunting cries of people at the airport. The crisis also influenced global aviation, with numerous major airlines, including American Airlines, Air France, and Lufthansa, canceling their flights to Tel Aviv.
A Chinese student in Rehovot, near the Gaza Strip, described a harrowing account of bombings and the Iron Dome, Israel’s antimissile system, springing into action. Yet, he mentioned that his day-to-day life remained largely unaffected.
The Road Ahead
The situation continued to be tense. Israeli forces battled to regain territories in the south, and airstrikes led to extensive destruction in the crowded Gaza Strip. But what does the future hold?
Wen Shaobiao, an expert from the Shanghai International Studies University, projected an escalation given Israel’s war mobilization and Netanyahu’s historically firm stance on the issue. He emphasized that a weak response from Netanyahu could lead to a political crisis.
However, Wen remains optimistic about the future. He believes that with mediation from regional and international powerhouses like Egypt and the U.S., the conflict might subside within weeks.
In conclusion, the recent flare-up between Palestine and Israel has reverberated globally, underscoring the need for a sustainable solution. The two-state solution emerges as a beacon of hope, emphasizing the importance of global collaboration for a peaceful future.
Hamas’s “Al-Aqsa Flood” and its Broader Implications
In recent years, the Middle East has been at the center of numerous geopolitical shifts and realignments. One event that has generated significant attention globally is what is now known as the most serious attack on Israel in a generation by Hamas. Named the “Al-Aqsa Flood,” this assault, according to Hamas, is a countermeasure against perceived desecrations of the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque and increasing settler violence.
Underlying Motives and the Role of Washington
However, geopolitical analysts, including experts from China, suggest there are deeper motivations behind this surprise offensive. Li Shaoxian, the esteemed director of the China-Arab Research Institute at Ningxia University, asserts that a pivotal reason is the ongoing negotiation for Israel-Saudi normalization. This negotiation, largely being facilitated by Washington, stands as a potential game-changer for regional dynamics.
Hamas, and many experts believe, fears that a successful normalization of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia could lead to a domino effect, prompting other Arab nations to follow suit. Such a shift would be detrimental to Palestinian interests. Historically, Palestinian forces have staunchly opposed Arab countries normalizing relations with Israel, proposing the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a precondition for Arab nations to solidify relations with Israel.
Broader Regional Impacts
While the immediate intent might be to halt the Israel-Saudi normalization, the repercussions of this assault could be more widespread. Several Chinese experts postulate that this attack might also shake the nascent trust between Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of whom have recently resumed diplomatic relations under China’s mediation.
In the aftermath of the Hamas-led aggression, the diplomatic stance of key Middle Eastern nations was clear. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran, along with Qatar, seemed to lay the blame squarely on Israel, pointing to its perceived escalation of hostilities with Hamas. The Saudi Foreign Ministry released a statement highlighting the gravity of the violence and the intricate geopolitical dynamics in play.
On the Western front, US President Joe Biden swiftly responded, pledging unequivocal support to Israel while cautioning any adversarial entities against exploiting the situation. This US-Israeli bond drew sharp criticism from senior Hamas officials. Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’s deputy chief, termed the American stance as hypocritical, emphasizing that global perceptions about the US’s Middle Eastern policies are becoming increasingly skeptical.
Experts believe that these events could profoundly reshape US Middle East policies. A salient point of contention is President Biden’s ambitious vision of constructing an expansive transportation network involving India, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Notably, if relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel were normalized, there would be potential for extending this network into Europe, using Israel as a pivotal gateway.
China’s Mediation and Vision for Resolution
Contrasting sharply with the Western approach, China’s strategy for addressing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict appears to be more balanced and well-received. Professor Liu Zhongmin, from the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, remarked that China’s emphasis on implementing the two-State solution and championing an independent Palestinian state is a holistic approach. This strategy places the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at the forefront, followed by fostering reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world.
Zhongmin also criticized the US for drafting solutions without involving Palestine directly. He argued that the US’s current strategy of urging Arab nations to reconcile with Israel sidelines Palestine, leading to desperate measures like the recent Hamas attack.
China’s diplomatic acumen, especially its objective stance in arbitrating Middle Eastern disputes, has earned widespread acclaim. The nation’s successful mediation in resuming diplomatic ties between longtime rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, is a testament to its effective diplomacy. Experts opine that this success could be a blueprint for addressing the intricate Palestine-Israel issue, despite the latter’s more complex nature.
The “Al-Aqsa Flood” attack, while immediately significant for Israel and Palestine, has broader implications for the entire Middle East and the global power dynamics. The event underscores the urgency for a comprehensive, unbiased solution, highlighting China’s emerging role as a crucial mediator in the region.