China Abandons Left and Right Between Palestine and Israel, Begins to Dislike Israel

China on Wednesday voiced support for a proposal launched by Islamic countries to accuse Israel of human rights violations, saying it would support a special session of the United Nations to discuss recent human rights violations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Analysts say that by abandoning its past strategy of playing to the left and right between Israel and the Palestinians and instead openly criticizing Israel, China may be realizing that it cannot shake the relationship between Israel and the United States, no matter what.

At the request of Palestinian and other coordinators of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the UN Human Rights Council will soon hold a special session on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to discuss issues related to the establishment of an independent international commission to investigate human rights violations in the current round of the conflict.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and injured in the bloody 11-day clashes between Israel and the Palestinians after the Palestinian militant group Hamas recently fired a barrage of rockets at Israel for human rights abuses in Jerusalem.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Wednesday that China supports the special session of the Human Rights Council and stressed that China is concerned about the continued deterioration of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories in recent years, saying “China firmly supports the just demands of the Palestinian side.

China has long been at home in the complex turmoil of the Middle East, cultivating a “circle of friends” and deliberately maintaining good political relations with all major regional forces, including the deeply antagonistic Palestinian resistance and Israel. In the recent armed conflict in Gaza, however, China appears to have begun a dramatic departure from its past stance, taking the rare step of publicly criticizing Israel.

China and Israel openly confront each other at the UN

The more than 10-day bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict coincided with China taking over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of May. At an emergency meeting of the Security Council hosted by China, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that “Israel, in particular, must exercise restraint” in the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has resulted in a large number of casualties, including women and children, and declared that “China is a sincere friend of the Palestinian people.

In addition, at last week’s UN General Assembly meeting, China and Israel went head-to-head publicly. In calling for an immediate ceasefire, Chinese Permanent Representative Zhang Jun again named Israel, reiterating that “Israel in particular should exercise restraint,” while Israel’s Permanent Representative Erdan countered with a call for Israel to “exercise restraint” and The Israeli Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Erdan, countered that calls for Israeli “restraint” and “appropriate use of force” were “flattering and hypocritical”.

Erdan also stressed during the “Question of Palestine” agenda debate that “Israel’s air strikes are precise and accurate and do more than international law requires” to avoid civilian casualties. Zhang Jun, for his part, dismissed that “no so-called precision strikes can avoid civilian casualties.

China’s official global television network (CGTN) even aired a recent program that Israel slammed as “blatantly anti-Semitic. The Israeli Embassy in Beijing tweeted that they were shocked by the comments in the Chinese official media, saying that “anti-Semitism has once again shown its ugly face.”

A commentary in the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post said that China has become the leading international critic of Israel over the recent Gaza conflict.

China and Israel were once close

Relations between China and Israel have been developing steadily and smoothly over the past decades. China has positioned the relationship as a “comprehensive partnership” and almost every Israeli president and prime minister has visited China in recent years. While China has at times criticized Israel on issues such as new settlements in the occupied territories in order to maintain its self-proclaimed image as a Third World leader in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israel has complained about China’s arms trade with Middle Eastern countries, there have hardly ever been direct obstacles or conflicts between the two countries that have affected the development of bilateral relations.

In a recent report, the Center for Jewish Studies in Shanghai noted that China and Israel have “no direct, fundamental conflicts of interest on almost any bilateral issue,” and that close cooperation between the two countries on security and counter-terrorism has even “gradually become a major factor in Sino-Israeli relations. “has gradually become a new growth point for the further development of Sino-Israeli relations.

China is Israel’s top trading partner in Asia and its third largest globally, and even as the global economy was hit twice as hard by the new crown epidemic last year, trade between the two sides grew significantly last year to more than $17 billion, up nearly 20 percent year-over-year.

Israel is a major global R&D center and a global leader in many areas of the high-tech industry, with hundreds of high-tech multinational companies from around the world having R&D centers in Israel, including dozens of Chinese companies such as Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi.

Aharon Aharon, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, told Chinese official media Xinhua that China is so interested in Israel’s technological innovation that he receives “study tours from China almost every week.

Israel has also signed large technology transfer contracts with China over the years, despite U.S. opposition, and has even provided sensitive dual-use technology to China. A report by the U.S. Congress’ U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) said Israel is the second largest supplier of weapons systems to China after Russia.

U.S.-China rivalry spills over into Sino-Israeli relations

China and Israel’s increasingly close relationship in the past has prompted several high-level warnings from the United States, with former national security adviser John Bolton and others expressing concern about China taking over the port of Haifa, on the southern shore of the Gulf of Haifa in the Mediterranean Sea, where the U.S. Sixth Fleet often calls. Former U.S. President Donald Trump had also warned Netanyahu in person that the United States could reduce security cooperation with Israel if it did not limit its dealings with China. Under U.S. pressure, Israel decided last year to exclude Huawei from 5G construction.

Observers point out that China has always been considered a free-rider in the international security system and has never wanted to get directly involved in Israeli-Palestinian affairs for years, but its long-standing involvement does not match its image as a great power that wants to rival the United States, and it needs to show the world its ability to navigate complex international situations.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited six Middle Eastern countries in March, setting a record for the most Middle Eastern countries visited by a Chinese foreign minister in one visit. During his visit, Wang pledged to promote a comprehensive consideration of the Palestinian issue in the Security Council during China’s presidency in May and put forward a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the Middle East.

Howard Shatz, a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, a U.S. think tank, noted that China has recently decided to be more proactive on the Middle East in order to highlight that it is a more responsible power than the United States. Shatz told Voice of America that Beijing has found contradictions in its relationship with Israel in the process. He said, “China is aware of the limitations of its relationship with Israel and that the United States will remain a very committed partner of Israel, at least for many years to come, and that China cannot change.”

Roie Yellinek, a researcher at The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, said China’s response to this bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza is not entirely directed at It should be seen as part of the broader context of the overall U.S.-China confrontation. He told VOA that China is trying to use the issue to push back against the U.S. and to show that the U.S. is not really concerned about human rights issues in China, such as Xinjiang.

On the other hand, however, the Israeli observer also noted that China’s uniqueness in the Middle East’s complex geopolitical game lies in its ability to make good contacts. He said, “China’s strength in the Middle East is their ability to maintain good relations with all sides, and choosing sides would take away that advantage.”