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May 30, 2024, 7:45am EDT
Middle East
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Semafor Signals

China’s Xi proposes Gaza peace talks as Israeli officials predict long war

Insights from the BBC, Haaretz, The Guardian, The Diplomat

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Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China May 30, 2024. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/Pool
Tingshu Wang/Pool/Reuters
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The News

Chinese leader Xi Jinping called for an international peace conference to end the Israel-Hamas war following talks with Arab heads of state in Beijing.

The remarks, in which Xi reiterated Chinese support for a two-state solution that would see the establishment of a formal Palestinian state, showcase China’s growing efforts to engage in Middle Eastern diplomacy.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Xi has been angling for Middle East influence

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Source:  
The Guardian

China has deep economic interests in the Middle East, where it has spent years pitching its Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing’s global infrastructure project. Its diplomatic ties, however, are less secure, and Xi is likely angling for more influence in the area. Chinese intervention in Middle Eastern politics is rare, and some may view it as an attempt to challenge Washington’s role in the region, The Guardian’s diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour recently noted. But “China sees its actions as a natural extension of the role it played last year in ending the nine-year diplomatic stand off between Saudi Arabia and Iran,” he wrote.

Ties between China and Israel weakening

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Source:  
The Diplomat

Despite years of close relations between Israel and China, the nations appear to be further apart than ever, one Middle Eastern studies scholar recently argued. The Oct. 7 attack by Hamas deepened an existing rift between the two countries, with Beijing lagging behind other nations in directly condemning the attack. Beijing has also repeatedly voiced support for Gaza and Palestinian statehood. “China’s support for the Palestinians and Iran angers Israel. It is obvious that China-Israel relations have fallen into a vicious cycle,” wrote Hongda Fan. “There is no doubt that both China and Israel can exist without each other, but this is the worst outcome for both countries.”

War in Gaza could go on all year

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Sources:  
BBC, Haaretz

As the Israel-Hamas war enters its eighth month, Israeli officials are suggesting that they are nowhere near the end of the conflict. “The fighting in Gaza will continue for at least another seven months,” Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, recently said. But officials in the US, Israel’s closest Western ally, have said that the nation must prioritize reaching a hostage deal as soon as possible. Waiting for a deal until the end of the war in seven months’ time risks the deaths of the remaining hostages: “Every passing day increases the likelihood that they won’t come back alive,” one senior US official told Haaretz.

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