Caixin
May 21, 2021 06:01 PM
WORLD

Israeli Ambassador to China Doesn’t See Palestinian Peace Talks Happening Any Time Soon

Irit Ben Abba (left), the new Israeli ambassador to China, met with Hong Lei, Director of the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, and submitted a copy of her credentials in February.
Irit Ben Abba (left), the new Israeli ambassador to China, met with Hong Lei, Director of the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, and submitted a copy of her credentials in February.

The majority of the Israelis supports a two-state solution to resolve the decades-long conflict with the Palestinians, but the two sides may not be able to launch new round of peace talks before the Palestinian election, Israeli ambassador to China Irit Ben-Abba Vitale said in an interview with Caixin.

The two-state solution is the “only feasible” option for the two sides, Ben-Abba told Caixin on May 13, adding: “We are not interested in interim solutions and going back and forth. We had this so many times in the past.”

However, the Israeli ambassador believed that the Palestinian side has not been ready to return to the negotiation table due to their delayed parliamentary and presidential elections this year. “We need to be sure that our partners are really serious and getting the final solution,” Ben-Abba said.

The struggle between Israelis and Palestinians is one of the world’s most enduring conflicts with deep roots in historic claims to the land that lies between the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Many attempts have been made to resolve the conflict as part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

While the two-state solution refers to an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel. The boundary between the two states is still subject to dispute and negotiation, with Palestinian and Arab leadership insisting on the “1967 borders,” which is not accepted by Israel.

China has long supported the two-state solution. During a Sunday United Nations Security Council meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China supports the two sides in resuming peace talks based on a two-state solution as soon as possible.

The solution would “establish an independent State of Palestine that enjoys full sovereignty with East Jerusalem as its capital and based on the 1967 border, and fundamentally realize the peaceful coexistence of Palestine and Israel, realize the harmonious coexistence of the Arab and Jewish nations, and realize lasting peace in the Middle East,” Wang said.

During the United Nations Security Council meeting chaired by Wang, he also offered to host Palestinian and Israeli representatives for direct talks in China.

However, the Israeli ambassador said that “We’re not sure there is a partner to come back to the negotiation table and we don’t see this in the last couple of years.”

The last round of peace talks took place from 2010 to 2011 between former U.S. President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections, which had been scheduled in May and July respectively, also complicated the prospect of peace talks. President Abbas postponed the planned elections late last month over voting in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem and divisions in his Fatah party.

Ben-Abba claimed that the current Palestinian leadership may have “no ambition” to press forward with the peace process. “Maybe we have to wait for the next generation of Palestinian leadership,” she said.

Read Caixin’s interview with Palestinian Ambassador to China Fariz Mehdawi here.

Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua (zhenhualu@caixin.com) and editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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