image China's Ambassador to the United Nations Liu Jieyi speaks at a news conference at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S. July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTS19VR3

China seeks to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

China’s Ambassador to the United Nations Liu Jieyi urged the international community to support a new initiative by his country’s President Xi Jinping, aimed at ending the decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and realize a viable two state solution. The Chinese diplomat revealed that the initiative proposes four-points that tackle the core issues of the conflict and would provide significant economic benefits to both the Palestinians and Israel. He further noted that China has also proposed launching a “China-Palestine-Israel tripartite dialogue mechanism in order to coordinate the implementation of major assistance programs” in the Palestinian territories. The Chinese proposal comes as part of a decision by the President, some two weeks ago, to step-up Beijing’s engagement in the Middle East after Xi Jinping held meetings with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas. That said, the current situation between Israel and the Palestinian reached an all-time low, when the Palestinian leader decided last week to suspend the vital security coordination with Israel, in response to the Israeli security measures surrounding the Temple Mount. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared during an assessment meeting in Ramallah, “What we decided is to freeze the security coordination (with Israel), and it continues. And defending the holy places, and it continues,” Abbas said.

Israel removed the metal detectors it installed at the entrance to the Temple Mount after street violence by Muslim worshipers threatened to deteriorate into a wave of violence, similar to the bloody attacks that plagued the Jewish state in October 2015 and persisted for months. Israel decided to install CCTV cameras as an alternative to the metal detectors, but the Palestinian leadership said the modified security measures were still unacceptable, thus the security coordination with Israel will not resume. In response to the Palestinian decision, Israel has reportedly started to pressure the Palestinian leadership by threatening to stop transferring to the Palestinian Authority tax funds it allocates on its behalf, if the latter were to continue to suspend the security coordination, which senior officials told TV7 “is a key ingredient to the relative calm that persisted in Israel and the West Bank for years.” The Israeli threat, however, has infuriated the Palestinian leadership, with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah threatening Israel to appeal to international courts if it would decide to stop transferring tax funds. In an interview to Palestinian television, Hamdallah accused Israel of using the tax funds it collects on behalf of the Palestinian leadership as leverage, which he claimed was “illegal under international law.” Hamdallah stressed that “every time a crisis arises with Israel, this is the first action that it takes.”