China’s Growing Interest in the Palestinian Cause Won’t Benefit Israel

Last month, the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, made his second trip to the Middle East this year, visiting Algeria, Egypt, and Syria. High on Wang’s agenda, according to Galia Lavi, was promoting his country’s coronavirus vaccine, along with Beijing’s ambitious infrastructure and economic projects for the region. He also had a third priority: the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Lavi writes:

Chinese statements show that it sees the Palestinian issue at the heart of the Middle East’s problems, and [believes, or at least claims to believe, that] lasting peace and security in the region depend on its resolution. . . . During [Wang’s] visit to Egypt in July, he put forward three ideas for achieving a two-state solution: enhancing the status of the Palestinian Authority; supporting the unity of Palestinian factions; and encouraging the resumption of peace talks based on the two-state solution.

China . . . identifies the Israel-Palestinian conflict as [the basis for rhetorical appeals to] Arab and Muslim audiences, [and] seeks to create for itself the image of a responsible power that stands beside an oppressed minority and offers to help achieve a solution for the benefit of both sides. Thus, the Israel-Palestinian conflict joins the list of topics that China can use to taunt the United States, while also playing down criticism of its own treatment of its Uyghur minority.

So far, Israel and China have been fairly successful at maintaining a policy that separates economic relations and mutual benefits from political disagreements. Thus, China continues to support Iran and the Palestinians, with no significant harm to its economic relations with Israel. . . . But as the rivalry between China and the U.S. grows, Beijing is expected to step up its efforts to cast Washington as a two-faced and irresponsible power while brushing away any criticisms relating to human rights. In this sense, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is very useful, and China’s position has broad international support even among some U.S. allies.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: China, Israel-China relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security