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China calls for immediate 'sustained humanitarian truce' in Hamas-Israel conflict

By AFP - Dec 01,2023 - Last updated at Dec 01,2023

Displaced Palestinians bake bread in Deir Al Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on Tursday, on the seventh day of a truce between Israel and Hamas (AFP photo)

BEIJING — China on Thursday called for a "sustained humanitarian truce" in the Hamas-Israel conflict, in a foreign ministry paper released as mediators in the war worked to reach agreement on another extension of the six-day pause in fighting.

"Parties to the conflict should... immediately realise a durable and sustained humanitarian truce," said the document, pitched as China's "position on resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict".

It called for a "comprehensive ceasefire and end of the fighting".

And it urged the UN Security Council to send a "clear message" opposing the "forced transfer of the Palestinian civilian population" as well as "calling for the release of all civilians and hostages held captive".

The body must also "demand that parties to the conflict exercise restraint to prevent the conflict from widening and uphold peace and stability in the Middle East", it added.

In the long term, it said: "Any arrangement on the future of Gaza must respect the will and independent choice of the Palestinian people."

China said last week it welcomed a truce between Israel and Hamas, which began on Friday and led to dozens of hostages being freed and the release of more than 100 Palestinian prisoners.

The truce, scheduled to end early on Thursday, has brought a temporary halt to fighting that began on October 7 when Hamas fighters poured over the border into Israel. Israel’s subsequent air and ground campaign in Gaza has killed nearly 15,000 people, also mostly civilians, according to Hamas officials, and reduced large parts of the north of the territory to rubble.

China has historically been sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and supportive of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

And President Xi Jinping has called for an “international peace conference” to resolve the fighting.

In a letter to a UN meeting held on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Xi called for “urgent actions to address the Palestine-Israel conflict”.

Xi urged the UN Security Council to “make every effort to facilitate a ceasefire, ensure the safety of civilians, and stop the humanitarian disaster”, Beijing’s state news agency Xinhua said.

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