A new player has entered the Holy Land conflict, and it is taking sides in the debate over Jerusalem.
China has now formally declared its support for an independent Palestinian state, premised upon the pre-1967 borders. China has also said East Jerusalem should be the capital of the new state.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the statement during a regular press briefing in Beijing. The statement was in direct response to an initiative by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
“China understands the concerns of Islamic countries on the status of Jerusalem, supports the resolution of the status of Jerusalem in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions and international consensus,” Lu said.
It’s the latest example of opposition to President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a recognition of the city as Israel’s permanent capital. In response, leaders from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in Istanbul, Turkey, to condemn the decision in an emergency summit called by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Muslim leaders claimed the recognition was “null and void legally,” called on all nations to recognize a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and demanded President Trump rescind the decision.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Erdogan have both called for the U.S. to be removed from any arbiter role in a peace process, as they consider the United States biased towards Israel.
Russia and China may be positioning themselves to inherit the role of third party broker in the peace process. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently met with Turkey’s Erdogan as part of a whirlwind tour to Turkey, Egypt and Syria. Putin called the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “counterproductive” and warned it could “provoke conflict.”
China meanwhile has advocated a four-point Middle Eastern peace platform, which involves a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine based on the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital. China also wants a halt to all Israeli settlement activity.
China’s massive “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure plan, which aims to secure control over world transportation networks, includes a massive investment in the Middle East. China thus aims to maintain its economic ties to both Israel and Muslim nations, which was made far more challenging by President Trump’s decision.
With Erdogan moving to unite the Muslim world against President Trump and Israel, and both Russia and China having new strategic reasons to involve themselves in the peace process, the United States could find itself diplomatically frozen out in the Middle East. China’s new assertiveness in the Middle East, coming on the heels of Vladimir Putin’s declaration of “victory” in Syria, is the latest ominous sign for America’s geopolitical standing.
Condemnation of Israel from Russia, China and others is not necessarily new. They’re part of a coalition in the United Nations that for years has repeatedly issued statements condemning the Middle East democracy.
One of the most recent strategies adopted in the U.N. is a plan to turn over $65 million to Palestinians to teach them to fight Israel in the courts.
U.N. officials said they would pay the Palestinian Authority “to wage lawfare against the state of Israel,” says the American Center for Law and Justice.
Lawfare is the practice of using courts against an enemy to tie up their time or win a public relations victory. In the United States, for example, Muslim groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations have filed “discrimination” lawsuits that drag out for years to tie up organizations that expose its radical ties.
ACLJ said the United Nations Development Assistance Framework “published their intention to spend millions of dollars funding anti-Israel discrimination. These funds will be set aside to actively train Palestinians on how to engage in lawfare against the state of Israel.”
In response, ACLJ has written to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, asking her to continue defending Israel and foil the lawfare plan if she can.
“It has come to light that organizations within the United Nations have budgeted to set aside funds to assist the Palestinian Authority in the waging of ‘lawfare’ against the state of Israel. Such budgetary allotments often go unnoticed by the news, but the size of the allotment – (not to mention its purpose) – nearly $65 million USD over the next four years, coming on top of aid already being given to the PA – is startling,” the letter said.
“Even worse, now that Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization, has signed a unity deal with the PA, it means that the U.N. is funding a terrorist-led legal war (lawfare) against our ally Israel. And since the U.S. funds the U.N. – upwards of 22 percent of the U.N.’s annual budget – it’s now a taxpayer-funded jihadist legal war on Israel,” the ACLJ report said.
“With various U.N. officials having admitted to anti-Israel bias over the last few years, it might have seemed that the U.N. had run out of shocking things they could do to rally against our truest ally in the Middle East, but they still manage to find new opportunities. The proposal of the anti-Israel slush fund for Palestinian agitators includes 16 different U.N. organizations that have proposed a multi-year budget that involves some humanitarian goals – like advancing women’s rights and educating children – but also includes a new $65 million budget to train Palestinians on how to litigate against Israel in international courts and forums,” ACLJ said.
“Madam Ambassador, it was you who proclaimed less than a year ago that ‘The days of Israel bashing are over.’ You have explained in the past how you have ‘no patience’ for the kind of bullying Israel has had to stand for, and that your tenure at the U.N. has changed the tone for the way the U.N. conducts business regarding Israel,” the letter begins. “We commend the position you have expressed on behalf of the United States that anti-Semitism must not be tolerated and that Israel cannot be used as the scapegoat for all of the Middle East’s problems.”