The recent exchange shows China’s efforts to mediate peace alongside Cairo, which has a record of negotiating between the parties.
The conversation came after Israel on Monday pledged a “complete siege” of Gaza. By Wednesday, the most recent escalation of the decades-old conflict had claimed more than 2,000 Israeli and Palestinian lives.
According to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry, Zhai reiterated China’s long-time position of advocating the two-state solution, and expressed deep concern about civilian casualties in the conflict.
“China is willing to maintain communication and coordination with Egypt, and to promote an immediate ceasefire and cessation of violence between the conflicting parties,” Zhai said. He said China was willing to provide humanitarian support to the Palestinian people in an attempt to stem the humanitarian crisis.
Beijing has refrained from taking sides in disputes in the Middle East, portraying itself as a friend to both Israel and Palestine. Chinese President Xi Jinping has not spoken with either Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas since the crisis began on Saturday.
“The fundamental solution lies in implementing the two-state solution, and the international community should make practical efforts with the utmost sense of urgency to promote it,” Zhai was quoted as saying in the statement.
The Chinese statement said the Egyptian official hailed China’s “long-standing fair position” on the issue and urged the two-state solution as fundamental to resolving the crisis. It said the Egyptian side looked forward to working with China to help de-escalate the situation.
Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukri was in contact with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the situation just hours after Hamas launched its surprise attack on Saturday. Since then, Shoukry has maintained frequent contact with senior officials from several countries, including Spain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Russia.
In recent years, Egypt has become a key mediator in the region and successfully halted some escalations between Israel and Palestinian military groups. In May 2021, Cairo brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after 11 days of rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip.
In an effort to minimise civilian casualties, the administration of US President Joe Biden is working with other nations on a proposal that enables Palestinian civilians and Americans in Gaza to escape from the war zone through a southern corridor into Egypt, according to NBC News.
Secretary of State Blinken will travel to Israel and Jordan on Wednesday to display US solidarity and support for Israel.