14.9 C
New York
Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Buy now


Can China Replace the U.S. as the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Broker? — RT World News

After successfully settling other Middle East disputes, Beijing is intervening in the region’s most challenging conflict

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Palestinian Authority (PA) president, Mahmoud Abbas, announced that the two countries had signed a strategic partnership, with Beijing signaling its willingness, in addition to promoting unity between rival Palestinian political parties, to Mediation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. China’s latest push to entangle itself further in the Middle East’s core conflict will draw the ire of Washington, whose power in the region is waning.

China has made several advances in Middle East relations this year, most notably brokering a Saudi-Iran rapprochement, raising concerns in Washington, which still sees the region as its own backyard. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas began his fifth visit to Beijing this week, taking over the role previously held by the United States, after receiving news that Beijing was ready to help mediate between Israel and Palestine .

Although Xi Jinping publicly expressed his support for Palestine’just causeHis country has also maintained strong ties with Israel for about two decades in order to achieve statehood in June 2022. From 2007 to 2020 alone, China invested more than $19 billion in Israel. Joint projects span Multiple fields, including technology, defense, academia, telecommunications and shipping. In addition to Tel Aviv’s light rail, Beijing has also invested in the Haifa port construction project, which is listed as part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative (BRI). This Indicative of a harmonious relationship between the two parties; however, unlike the US government, China is prepared to openly support the Palestinian struggle.

China is a neutral broker, can peace be achieved?

While China could arguably be biased over its investments in Israeli infrastructure or its rhetoric about the Palestinian cause of statehood, it is clear that there is a more balanced approach to the issue than Washington’s. The United States has considered Israel its Western outpost in the Middle East since 1967, and Americans are so loyal to Tel Aviv that U.S. President Joe Biden has repeatedly said he supports the nationalist ideology behind Israel’s creation — Zionism.

China supports Palestine's 'just cause'

In addition to diplomatic and military support, the White House has pledged unconditional funding to Israel. Tel Aviv is protected and gets away with violating American red lines even when the interests of the U.S. government are compromised. On the other hand, the U.S. government funds the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is located in one of the Israeli-occupied territories, but considers nearly all other Palestinian political entities as terrorist organizations, including Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, and any political party in Palestine enjoys the most public support among the In 2007, the US even helped plot to overthrow the democratically elected Hamas government in Gaza.

Since 2014, the U.S. has failed to bring the Palestinian Authority and Israel to the negotiating table for a dialogue on the two-state solution model — which is supported by an overwhelming majority of U.N. member states. It has also watched Israeli settlements expand, violating its own red lines in the conflict, contributing in part to the current political climate in today’s far-right Israeli coalition, which includes policymakers who are themselves hardline settlers.

On the other hand, China has not made a clear statement. It supports an international consensus to resolve conflicts, which can be dealt with from scratch. Moreover, Beijing not only refuses to isolate other Palestinian political groups such as Hamas, the PFLP, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), but also actively engages with leaders belonging to the Hamas party. This means that the Chinese government will be able to talk to the Palestinian leader, who does enjoy popular support, unlike the US.

The problem at hand, however, is that there are no resolutions to the conflicts on the table. The first step in securing any viable political roadmap is the creation of a unified Palestinian political platform, which must involve in part Fatah, which runs internal affairs in the West Bank, and Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip. On the Israeli side, they too must be forced back to the negotiating table, while China must firmly oppose violations of its red lines aimed at reducing the size of Tel Aviv and ensuring cooperation. Benjamin Netanyahu’s current government would fall apart if it considered dialogue on a two-state solution, as most of its ministers support annexation of the West Bank, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and even changes to the status quo at holy sites in Jerusalem.

What does China hope to achieve?

Palestinian President's visit to China

Given the current situation, Beijing can work toward two specific goals: Palestinian unification and a reduction in U.S. power in the country. Whether we are talking about one state or two states, without a unified authority or representative body on the Palestinian side, it is impossible to reach an agreement to resolve the conflict. At this moment, the internationally recognized Palestinian president is Abbas, who presides over the Palestinian Authority’s limited-control enclave within the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Since taking office, Abbas has taken full control of the Palestinian Authority’s legislative and security branches and outlawed democratic elections following Hamas’ historic victory in 2006 legislative elections.

For the Palestinians to work toward any solution, there must be at least one unified leadership spanning the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. As long as there are two independent leaders in power in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, that will not change. One solution to the deadlock is for Beijing to persuade Abbas to hold legislative and presidential elections. In theory, this would provide a democratic solution to the leadership problem. Although it will not be an easy task, especially as the United States, Israel and other Western partners will strongly oppose the inevitable outcome of the election.

All recent poll data show that a majority of Palestinians oppose Abbas as leader and demand his resignation. Poll data and anecdotal evidence also suggest that a majority of Palestinians will vote for Hamas in legislative elections and Fatah figures such as Marwan Barghouti in presidential elections.

Another factor in China’s potential involvement is its ability to influence the Israeli government. Saying now that Beijing is capable of convincing Israel to agree to any solution with the Palestinians is a world of difference, but it could definitely test the limits of the Israeli-US relationship and force Tel Aviv to take a more specific position as to whether it is a Western power or really seeking into the Middle East.

As the U.S. government seeks to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative with its own Global Partnership for Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), it is navigating a world where its key ally finds itself in two spheres of influence. During the Trump administration, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern about possible security risks posed by Chinese investment in Israel, and even suggested that Washington may have to reconsider some cooperative initiatives with Israel. .

Israel 'fighting fiercest' with Gaza militants - Netanyahu

Given the failure of the Lavi fighter jets in the 1990s, the US government may face legitimate concerns among its security services about Sino-Israeli cooperation. The incident involved accusations that Israel’s then fully nationalized weapons industry transferred fourth-generation fighter technology from an abandoned joint US-Israeli program to China, leading to the creation of the J-10 fighter jet. While such a thing is unlikely to happen today, in the new Cold War environment, the United States does not want to see one of its closest allies get too close to their leading global opposition.

Given the scale of Chinese investment in Israel, Beijing could press and pressure Tel Aviv to take certain positions that could harm U.S. interests. We have seen Israel continue to be a partner of China through its role in peace negotiations with Iran despite the gaps in Beijing’s strategy for a future normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia. Beijing also wields considerable, and to a lesser extent, influence through its relations with Iran, the UAE, and even countries like Syria and Lebanon. All of this puts the Chinese government in a stronger position in the region. It thus gives Beijing the ability to act as a potential middleman, especially given that it does not have the dire record the US maintains.

Even a public announcement that China is seeking meaningful access to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating arena would be a major blow to Washington, which lacks the real clout or neutrality to push for any progress towards peace. By strategically exerting pressure on the Israeli government, in addition to helping to unify the Palestinian political scene, Beijing can indeed make some progress beyond just demonstrating that the role of the United States is diminishing.

Statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles