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Chinese envoy warns against forced displacement of Palestinians

ISLAMABAD (PEN) : A Chinese envoy on Friday warned of the consequences of forcibly displacing Palestinians from Gaza and stressed the importance of an immediate cease-fire.

Nearly 100 days into the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, more than 23,000 people in Gaza and over 200 United Nations (UN) personnel and journalists have lost their lives, and 90 percent of the population of Gaza has been displaced, said Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, at a Security Council meeting.

Regarding the rhetoric of “voluntary migration” out of Gaza, he said any forced displacement of Palestinians must be firmly rejected.

“That would mean driving 2 million people out of Gaza and turning Gaza into a so-called safe zone devoid of human habitation. If put into practice, such a horrific idea would constitute atrocity crimes under international law and would completely destroy the prospect of the two-state solution,” said Zhang.

In addition, Zhang called for all-out efforts to alleviate the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

Israel must fulfill its obligations as the occupying power, ensure the safety of humanitarian workers and provide full cooperation in humanitarian relief efforts, he said.

China supports further action by the Security Council to remove obstacles to the safe, rapid and unimpeded entry of sufficient humanitarian supplies into Gaza, he said.

Meanwhile, Zhang called for efforts to promote a cease-fire in Gaza with utmost urgency.

Only a cease-fire can prevent greater civilian casualties and humanitarian disasters, and only a cease-fire can prevent the entire Middle East region from being devoured by calamity, he said.

It is worrying that instead of seeing prospects for an immediate cease-fire, the conflict is expanding, he said.

An immediate cease-fire has become the overwhelming call of the international community. Yet a permanent member of the Security Council has been using various excuses to block consensus on this issue in the Security Council by using its veto power. This is blatant contempt for international fairness and justice and for the authority of the Security Council, said Zhang.

“Some people have constantly talked about the protection of human rights and the prevention of genocide, while, in the face of the appalling situation in Gaza, they have played dumb, kept stonewalling and attempted to deflect attention,” he said, adding that this was using double standards. “It is imperative that we remove all interference and take robust action to end the fighting, save lives, and restore peace.”

China urges the international community, especially countries with major influence, to make the realization of a cease-fire the overriding urgent task, he said.

China is concerned about the spillover effects of the Gaza conflict on the situation in the Red Sea. The military action launched by the United States and Britain against Yemen will undoubtedly exacerbate regional tensions, Zhang said.