China announces support for Palestinian UN statehood bid
Special Chinese envoy to the Middle East Wu Sike shares the news at a meeting with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah on Thursday.
China says it supports a Palestinian plan to seek full membership in the United Nations next month.
Negotiations with Israel on the terms of Palestinian statehood have been frozen since 2008. As an alternative, the Palestinians have decided to seek UN recognition of an independent "Palestine" in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the areas Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War.
The Netanyahu government adamantly opposes the Palestinian efforts to seek UN membership without a negotiated peace agreement with Israel, but many countries around the world have already promised Palestinian leaders diplomatic support for the venture.
China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday that Wu Sike, its special envoy on the Middle East, told Palestinian leaders in a meeting in Ramallah that Beijing and the Chinese people have always supported the Palestinian cause.
The Foreign Ministry statement said Wu expressed understanding, respect and support for the Palestinians' bid for statehood.
Earlier in the week, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs also expressed support for an independent Palestinian state, saying that she hopes a meeting of European Union foreign ministers on September 2 in Poland will bring progress toward its recognition.
"There's the feeling that now is the time to do something, to give the Palestinians the hope that a state could become reality," Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Trinidad Jimenez said in an interview with El Pais newspaper published on Sunday.
President Mahmoud Abbas is seeking to upgrade the Palestinians' status at a United Nations General Assembly meeting in September, but it is thought that he is unlikely to emerge from that venue with full UN membership.
More likely is an upgrade of the Palestinian territories to become a non-member state from its current status as an observer. That would not need Security Council approval and would elevate the Palestinians' UN status to equal that of the Vatican.