China and Russia views on the Hamas – Israel crisis


Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza launched Operation “Al-Aqsa Flood” in response to “the continuing attacks by Israeli forces and settlers against the Palestinian people, their property and sanctities, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem”. On the other hand, the Israeli army launched “Operation Iron Swords”, through which it continues to launch intensive raids on many areas in the Gaza Strip, which is inhabited by more than two million Palestinians who suffer from deteriorating living conditions as a result of an ongoing Israeli siege since 2006.

   In light of these developments between Hamas and the Israeli side, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs considered that what Israel is doing is inhumane and exceeds the limits of self-defense.  Here, both China and Russia are trying to enter the crisis line to move the stagnant waters in the process of serious negotiations between all parties, and China will try to intervene through mediation and calling for an international peace conference under its auspices to stop these ongoing massacres in Gaza. The Security Council meeting to discuss the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation was unable to reach a decisive decision regarding the conflict between Hamas and Israel, due to Russia and China’s refusal to condemn Hamas alone without the Israeli side, as the UN Security Council did not issue any joint statement, let alone issue a binding resolution for any party.  A party to the conflict, in light of the keenness of a number of members of the UN Security Council, led by Russia and China, to issue a statement related to the issue more broadly than focusing on condemning Hamas. Therefore, the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations “Vasily Nebenzia”, confirmed that Russia’s message in particular was in favor of an immediate cessation of fighting, a ceasefire, and meaningful negotiations, with the Russian side confirming that the reason for the current situation is partly due to “unresolved issues” between the two parties.  Palestinian and Israeli.

  As for the Chinese point of view, it is represented by the Chinese ambassador and its representative to the United Nations “Zhang Jun”, condemning all attacks against civilians, and his emphasis on the necessity of returning to the peace process to achieve the two-state solution. With the Chinese side officially confirming that these repeated clashes between Palestinians and Israelis are evidence and indication that the long stagnation witnessed in the peace process is no longer sustainable. Therefore, China called on the international community to intensify efforts to resolve the conflict and resume peace talks between the Palestinian and Israeli parties, while seeking to reach a lasting peace, with China officially confirming that it will make unremitting efforts with the international community to achieve this goal of establishing peace.  The striking thing about the official statement of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is that it did not contain any condemnation of the attack launched by the Palestinian resistance factions of “Hamas and the Al-Qassam Brigades” against the Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.  But the Chinese official statement confirmed that this latest round of conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis fully demonstrates that the long-term stagnation in the peace process is the real reason for the increase in violence and the escalation of recent events between its parties. The Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated its call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, which greatly angered the Israeli and American sides.

   Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also confirmed after his meeting with “Josep Borrell”, the European Union’s foreign policy official in the Chinese capital, Beijing, on Friday, October 14, 2023, that the reason for the conflict between Israel and Hamas is “historical injustice” against the Palestinians, stressing that “the root of the problem lies in the long delay in achieving Palestine’s aspirations to establish an independent state, and that the historical injustice to which the Palestinian people have been subjected has not yet been corrected”.

 What is noted here is that Chinese President “Xi Jinping” is trying to play a major global role as a global peacemaker, just as he proposed a ceasefire in Ukraine and to help the two arch rivals, namely: Saudi Arabia and Iran, in order to reach a diplomatic truce between them and end the conflict.  Here we note that in the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, China’s first statement regarding the events between Israel and Gaza, which was issued on Sunday, October 8, 2023, sought to take a neutral position, and did not condemn any of its parties. When the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a press conference to present China’s point of view on the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation, during the press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning refused to condemn the attack carried out by the Palestinian resistance inside Israel, stressing China’s always support for fairness and justice.  This is the same as what was confirmed by the official Chinese “Global Times” newspaper , which is close to the official and governmental circles of the ruling Communist Party in China.

  What is noted here is that the official Chinese media devoted large amounts of space to talking about the causes of the recent escalation, with careful use of the phrase Palestinians and Israelis, without referring at all to the armed factions or Hamas, with the Chinese emphasis on implementing a “two-state solution.”  This prompted the Deputy Head of the Diplomatic Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Beijing, Yuval Waks, to stress that the time is not appropriate for the Chinese side to talk about a two-state solution, which is the same thing that the American side rejected, because they believe that China is sympathetic to the Palestinians in confronting Israel because it does not directly condemn the Palestinian resistance.  , compared to the positions of Japan and South Korea in support of Israel.

 What I stopped at, as a political analyst in Chinese affairs, is the focus of the Chinese media and the government newspaper “Global Times” in China on the failure of the peace process under American auspices that is biased towards Israel and placing responsibility on the United States for the deterioration of the situation, in light of the necessity of searching for other alternatives to establish security and peace, noting that  To Chinese peace initiatives.  In addition, the official Chinese media republished previous statements by China’s representative to the United Nations, Geng Shuang, on September 27, 2023, during the speech he delivered at the United Nations, stressing that “the continued expansion of Israeli settlement construction is an infringement on Palestinian lands and resources.  It puts pressure on the Palestinian population.” China also officially called on the international community to hold a large-scale international peace conference between the Palestinian and Israeli parties.

  The Chinese complete rejection of all calls to condemn Palestine in light of the clash with the Israeli side came with the official Chinese confirmation through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs that exit from the conflict is the two-state solution.  With Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning confirming in her statements that “Beijing always stands for the rules of justice and fairness. It is a friend of both Palestine and Israel and sincerely hopes that the two sides will be able to coexist peacefully”. According to the official Chinese newspaper “Global Times”, Ambassador Mao’s statements came in response to “some voices pressuring China to condemn Palestine”, including a statement by US Senate Majority Leader “Chuck Schumer”, who called on China to condemn Hamas attacks. Therefore, Ambassador Mao affirmed that China condemns all acts of violence and any behavior that harms civilians and opposes the escalation of the situation between all parties. Here, China considered that the most urgent task for them now is to reach a ceasefire and restore peace, while emphasizing Beijing’s hope that “the international community will cooperate to calm tensions”, with the official Chinese assertion, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that “the way out of the conflict is to resume peace talks, with implementing the two-state solution and pushing towards a political solution to the Palestinian issue, and that China is ready to work with the international community to find appropriate solutions to the Palestinian issue”.

  Based on China’s positions in support of Palestinian rights, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Israeli side had expressed, in a telephone call with the Chinese envoy to the Middle East, “Israel’s great disappointment” regarding China’s failure to condemn the attack carried out by the Hamas movement. Israeli Ambassador “Rafi Harpaz”, Deputy Director of the Asia-Pacific Region at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also confirmed that “he feels Israel’s deep disappointment regarding the Chinese statements and statements about the recent events in the south, as there was no clear and unequivocal condemnation of the terrible massacre committed by Hamas”.

  Based on the previous analysis, we note this great Chinese interest in strengthening its presence in the Middle East, and in the absence of any clear diplomatic breakthrough in the settlement paths between the Palestinians and Israel that are supposed to be sponsored by the United States of America, the Chinese presence on the Palestinian arena raises questions about the secret of Beijing’s interest in an important issue.  Such as the Palestinian issue, and the extent of the possibility that this Chinese interest will result in the development of a direct Chinese presence in the Palestinian issue during the coming period.  Especially since, over the course of more than five decades, China has shown a rhetorical commitment to resolving the Palestinian issue in accordance with international decisions, calling for the implementation of the principle of a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit