China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China is planning to reach out to Israel and the Palestinians to act as a mediator for future peace talks, according to Al-Aribiya’s TV channel Wednesday, in an apparent attempt to dislodge the U.S. from its role as intermediary.
“We will invite Palestinian and Israeli public figures to have talks in China,” said Wang, according to Al-Aribiya.
While Wang expressed intent, it does not appear China has reached out directly to Israel’s Prime Minister or Foreign Ministry and did not specify when it plans to do so.
A Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef welcomed the invitation, but Israel has yet to respond.
Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation, James Carafano, believes this most recent attempt by China to step into a role typically taken on by the U.S. “looks like another experiment for them” and “will likely be a real disaster,” Carafano told The Foreign Desk.
China’s foreign policy “has changed dramatically the last few years. They have had global pushback from Huawei, 5G, etc. and in response they have tried everything from Wolf Warrior diplomacy to vaccine diplomacy,” said Carafano.
“On the one hand, it shows they can and are trying to adapt. On the other, it could well show they don’t really know what works.”
China is an adamant supporter of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in 2017, China’s President Xi Jinping met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss China’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state.
In 2020, China’s UN envoy Zhang Jun condemned any plans for Israeli annexation of the West Bank saying it would violate “international law and relevant UN resolutions” and reiterated to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that “the Palestinian people can always count on China’s support for their just cause and legitimate national rights.”
Zhang then called on countries having influence on Palestinians and Israelis to “stay impartial and just” in promoting peace talks and highlighted the humanitarian situation in “occupied Palestinian territory and the hardship Palestinian people are suffering.”
China and Israel hold diplomatic relations but remain starkly divided on the two-state solution.
“As soon as things get ugly, [China] will run away like a frightened dog,” says Carafano. “Also, since they are conducting a genocide against Muslims, they are making themselves a bigger target for Islamist terrorists and they won’t like what comes with that.”