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Ex-Palestinian, Israeli Ministers Want China to Join Peace Process

By Daniel Schearf; Voice of America- news, 17.12.06

Former Palestinian and Israeli ministers have called on China to play a more direct role in the Middle East peace process, which they indicated is dominated by the United States and its bias toward Israel. At a Beijing seminar on the Middle East, the first of its kind in China, the former ministers said the Chinese government is in a unique position to help broker peace. Daniel Schearf reports.
The four-day seminar, which ended Sunday, produced a joint statement calling on China to join the Middle East Quartet seeking peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The Quartet, made up of the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union, has failed to broker a lasting peace between the two sides.
The former ministers said one reason for the failure was a lack of balance in the peace process, which they indicated was the fault of the United States and its bias towards Israel.
Abdel Kader Hamed, a former Palestinian minister of state, said the will of the international community in the mediation was sometimes represented by what he called "the first power in the world".
Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli minister of justice, says China's willingness to talk to anyone, including governments some Western nations consider unsavory, also puts it in a unique position to help broker peace.
"The importance of China, among other things, is quite unique," he said. "Because, it is accessible to all parties in the Middle East. It talks to everybody, unlike some of the other important players in the world. And, on the other hand, nobody can ignore China."
The ministers said China's early recognition of and support for a Palestinian state have earned it credibility in the Middle East.
They said China's status as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and an emerging superpower also means it has the responsibility to pay closer attention to the Middle East conflict.
Beilin said he did not know if China would seek to join the Quartet or support a peace plan the former ministers crafted in 2003 known as the Geneva Initiative.
China's special envoy to the Middle East, Sun Bigan, would not say when Beijing would seek to join the peace process.
He said even though China is not a member of the Quartet, the government would continue to contribute to the Middle East peace process in its own way.