China can play a "special role" in the Middle East, a Palestinian envoy visiting Beijing has said
Bassam al-Salhi, general secretary of the Palestinian People's Party, holds a press conference at China's Foreign Ministry building in Beijing on November 23, 2012. The Palestinian member of parliament is visiting China to discuss the violence in Gaza. © Mark Ralston - AFP
China can play a
AFP
Last updated: November 23, 2012

Palestinian envoy seeks special role for China

China can play a "special role" in the Middle East, a Palestinian envoy said Friday, following eight days of deadly conflict between Israel and militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Bassam al-Salhi, a representative of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, was speaking after talks in Beijing on efforts to upgrade his people's status at the United Nations and maintain calm in the region.

A cease-fire brokered by Egypt came into effect Thursday in Gaza -- which Abbas does not control.

Al-Salhi, also general secretary of the Palestinian People's Party, referred to Beijing as a "broker" and a "mediator" after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

He said China could succeed where the United States failed in finding a solution to end hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We are very interested in the Chinese role in all the Middle East because all the Middle East needs more efforts from the international community," he said.

"They want to be involved (in the Middle East) and we are interested in them being more involved. A special role (for) China is coming."

China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has voiced support for the Palestinian push for full state membership of the United Nations.

It has also called on the international community to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but not played an active role itself.

Beijing said it welcomed the ceasefire and hoped both sides would "sincerely implement" it.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also said China would give humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip but declined to go into details.

Al-Salhi had earlier said China offered $1 million in "special assistance" to "our people in Palestine".

Beijing has traditionally remained distant from Middle Eastern affairs, although it has begun to take a more active diplomatic role in recent years, wielding its UN veto power to scuttle some Western-backed proposals on Syria.

China generally opposes what it calls intervention in the internal affairs of other nations.

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