China reiterates commitment to Israel-PA peace

China announces it will host a symposium between Israel and Palestinian Arabs later this year as President Xi and Abbas meet.

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Elad Benari,

Mahmoud Abbas and Xi Jinping
Mahmoud Abbas and Xi Jinping
Reuters

China will host a symposium between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs later this year, an official said Tuesday, as president Xi Jinping vowed to "ceaselessly" contribute towards peace in the region.

Despite depending on the volatile Middle East for oil supplies, Beijing has long taken a backseat in its disputes.

But China has stepped up its diplomatic engagement in the region in the past year, including offering to host talks on the Syrian conflict.

In a meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, Xi reaffirmed China's support of a two-state solution, with an independent, fully sovereign Palestinian state, bounded by the pre-1967 borders and with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

During closed door talks, Xi said China will set up a trilateral dialogue mechanism and later this year host a peace symposium to help resolve the dispute, vice minister of foreign affairs Zhang Ming told reporters, according to AFP.

Xi called the Palestinian people "true good friends, partners, and brothers" of China, stating his country would "unswervingly promote China-Palestine bilateral relations and ceaselessly move the Middle East peace process forward".

Abbas, on his fourth state visit to the country, said he "hoped to see China play a greater role in the Middle East peace process." He also presented Xi with a golden medal of honor.

In 2013, China presented a four-point proposal for a solution to the Israel-PA conflict. The Chinese proposal focused on an independent Palestinian state, negotiations as the only way to peace, the principle of "land for peace", and on guarantees the international community should provide for the progress of the peace process.

Abbas told the Xinhua news agency this week that his talks with Xi would focus on the four-point proposal, as well as the proposals that the Chinese President raised in his address at the Arab League's headquarters in Cairo in January of 2016.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also met with Xi on a visit to Beijing in March, with the Chinese leader calling for peace between Israel and the Palestinians "as soon as possible."

Netanyahu said at the time that Israel was willing to see China play a bigger role in Middle East affairs, according to state media.

Trade between China and Israel has flourished since diplomatic ties were established in 1992.

China's total investment in Israel exceeds six billion dollars, and Israeli-designed technologies are used across the world's second largest economy. The two countries began free trade negotiations last year.