After Chinese officials recently expressed interest in increasing their involvement in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian delegations will arrive in Beijing this weekend at the initiative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which is funding the visit. The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, and his deputy, Chen Xiaodong, will meet the delegations arriving in Beijing this Thursday. At the end of the meeting, the Chinese officials will hold a special press conference, where they will present the country’s positions on the issue of the conflict.
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MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Union) will lead the Israeli delegation, while Nabil Shaath, who is presidential adviser on international affairs, will head the Palestinian side. Former Palestinian minister Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO’s) central committee and a close associate of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will also participate, as will Geneva Peace Initiative representatives, including director general Gadi Baltiansky and Nimrod Goren, director of Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.
Last week, against the backdrop of the U.S. declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, China clarified that it supported the establishment of a “fully sovereign” Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. “China understands the Islamic countries’ concern about the status of Jerusalem,” a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua. The spokesperson, Lu Kang, added that China “calls for a resolution to the issue in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and international consensus.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often praised the tightening of relations between his government and China over the past two years. Netanyahu met Chinese President Xi Jingping last march as part of a visit marking 25 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations. Xi said during the meeting that coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians would be good for both sides. “A peaceful, stable and developing Middle East serves the interests of all, including China and Israel,” Xi told Netanyahu.
Last month, the Chinese government opened the first culture center of its kind in Tel Aviv at a cost of 20 million shekels ($5.7 million). The initiative is part of “the republic’s comprehensive strategy, by which it should present Chinese culture in all countries in which it maintains diplomatic, economic and cultural ties,” the Chinese cultural attache told the Haaretz Hebrew edition. It is the second cultural center China has established in the Middle East, after Cairo.