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China urges Israel to abide by international laws


General view of buildings which were destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip on October 23, 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza.

Ahmad Hasaballah | Getty Images News | Getty Images

China urged Israel to abide by international humanitarian law and protect the safety of Palestinian civilians in its war against the Hamas militant group, and called for peace talks between the two sides.

“Every country has the right to self-defense, but every country should abide by international humanitarian law and protect the safety of civilians,” China Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly said in a call with his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen on Monday.

“As long as [any resolution] is conducive to peace, China will firmly support it; as long as [any resolution] is conducive to Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation, China will do its best,” according to a readout of Wang’s call with Cohen.

Israel’s war on Hamas has entered its third week and comes after the Palestinian militant group launched a surprise attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. In response, Israel has been bombarding the Gaza Strip which is under Hamas control.

The conflict has so far killed at least 1,400 people in Israel, and retaliatory air strikes have killed more than 5,000 people in the Gaza Strip. CNBC could not independently verify these numbers.

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“The current Palestinian-Israeli conflict affects the entire world and involves major choices between war and peace,” Wang said, avoiding any explicit and overt reference to Hamas.

China also called for the convening of “a more authoritative, wide-ranging and effective” international peace summit as soon as possible. The proposal is aimed at “resuming peace talks to formulate a time table and road map to peace between Palestine and Israel,” according to a readout for a separate call on Monday that Wang convened with his counterpart from the Palestinian National Authority Riyad al-Maliki.

Hamas is one of two major political forces in the Palestinian territories, the other being Fatah, which was previously known as the Palestinian National Liberation Movement. Fatah retains control of the Palestinian National Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. 

More CNBC coverage of the Israel-Hamas war

Wang’s calls on Monday occurred as he prepares to head to Washington later this week for meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan.

Wang had told Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in a separate call on Oct. 15 that Israel’s actions have “gone beyond self-defense” and it should heed the call of the international community to stop its “collective punishment” of the people in Gaza.



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