update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Israel slams Beijing for saying Palestinians have a right to attack civilians

"The Chinese statement could be interpreted as support for the murderous terrorist attack by Hamas on the seventh of October."

China’s President Xi Jinping at a meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Saudia Arabia, Dec. 8, 2022. Source: YouTube.
China’s President Xi Jinping at a meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Saudia Arabia, Dec. 8, 2022. Source: YouTube.

Jerusalem on Monday criticized Beijing’s presentation to the International Court of Justice last week in which its representative appeared to legitimize the Hamas-led terrorist attack of Oct. 7.

“In pursuit of the right to self-determination, Palestinian people’s use of force to resist foreign oppression and complete the establishment of an independent state is [an] inalienable right well founded in international law,” Chinese Foreign Ministry legal adviser Ma Xinmin argued at The Hague, adding that Palestinian violence against Israel can be interpreted as “armed struggle” instead of terrorism.

During the invasion of sovereign Israeli territory on Oct. 7, thousands of terrorists participated in the murders of some 1,200 people, the wounding of thousands more and the kidnapping of 253 back to Gaza. Widespread atrocities were reported, including rapes, beheadings, burning babies, mutilations, torture and desecration of corpses.

The Hamas terrorist group praised the Chinese representative’s presentation.

“We also appreciate the position expressed by the People’s Republic of China, and its emphasis on the legality of the occupied peoples’ pursuit of self-determination, by various means, including armed resistance, and the necessity not to confuse terrorism with the armed struggle practiced by the Palestinian people against the Zionist occupation,” Osama Hamdan, a Hamas terrorist leader in Lebanon, said in a statement.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat tweeted in response to the Chinese address that “the laws of war do not allow a systematic and targeted attack against civilians and the use of civilians as human shields—two war crimes that Hamas commits under the title of ‘armed struggle.'”

Haiat continued: “At the current time, the Chinese statement could be interpreted as support for the murderous terrorist attack by Hamas on the seventh of October. China should ask itself why the terrorist organization Hamas was quick to welcome the words of its legal adviser at the ICJ.”

Fifty-two countries and three international organizations are taking the stand at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the court, with Monday the final day of hearings.

The court is hearing arguments due to a request submitted by the U.N. General Assembly pursuant to a Dec. 30, 2022, resolution calling for an examination of the “Legal Consequences arising from the Policies and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

A nonbinding legal opinion is expected after months of deliberation by the judges.

Israel has chosen not to send a representative, saying the court lacks jurisdiction to consider the matter.

The Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem said in a statement last week that “Israel does not recognize the legitimacy of the proceedings of the international court in The Hague regarding ‘the legality of the occupation,’” calling it “an effort designed to infringe on Israel’s right to defend itself against existential threats.

“The proceedings are “part of the Palestinian attempt to dictate the results of the diplomatic settlement without negotiations. We will continue to reject this; the government and the Knesset are united in rejecting this unacceptable course of action,” the PMO added.

In December, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the U.N. resolution “disgraceful,” adding, “The Jewish people is not occupying its land and is not occupying its eternal capital Jerusalem. No U.N. resolution can distort this historical truth.”

Beijing has become increasingly aligned with the Palestinians in recent years and in January a U.S. State Department official warned that China is increasingly promoting antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel.

Delivering a keynote address to the American Bar Association on Monday, Aaron Keyak, deputy special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, said China is trying to undermine the United States by claiming that Jews control the country.

“I have particular concern that since [the] Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, there’s been an increase in the People’s Republic of China’s state media and online discourse of antisemitic tropes that Jews control the United States through deep U.S.-Israel ties, as well as control over banks, the media and that they have influence over government leaders,” he said.

Keyak cited the example of an October 2023 program on “uncovering the Israel elements of U.S. elections in history,” during which the national Chinese broadcaster alleged that “Jews who represent 3% of the U.S. population control 70% of its wealth.”

“Conjecture that Jews control the U.S. government and U.S. wealth is an antisemitic falsehood intended to degrade trust in the United States, our democratic institutions, and ultimately, democracy around the globe,” he added.

Since Oct. 7, U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that Chinese-owned media outlets and social media platforms, including TikTok, have promoted anti-Israel and even pro-Hamas propaganda. 

The Chinese government has been deeply critical of Israel throughout the conflict against Hamas, hasn’t condemned the Oct. 7 massacre and has accused Israel of “collective punishment” against the Palestinians. 
“It’s high time to implement the two-state solution with concrete steps, including a full membership for Palestine in the U.N.,” wrote Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, on Jan. 21.

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