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China's Wang Yi tells Israeli counterpart 'all countries' have right to self-defence

BEIJING: China’s foreign minister has told his Israeli counterpart that “all countries” have a right to self-defence, Beijing said on Tuesday (Oct 24) in the first call between top diplomats from the two countries since the Israel-Hamas conflict flared this month.

“All countries have the right to self-defence,” Wang Yi told Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, according to a foreign ministry readout.

But he also stressed that “they should abide by international humanitarian law and protect the safety of civilians”.

Wang promised China would “do its utmost” to support efforts that are “conducive to peace”.

Hamas militants stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Oct 7, and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians who were shot, mutilated or burnt to death on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials. Israel says around 1,500 Hamas fighters were killed in clashes before its army regained control of the area under attack.

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More than 5,000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed across the Gaza Strip in relentless Israeli bombardments in retaliation for the attacks by the Palestinian militant group, according to the latest toll from Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

China has refrained from explicitly condemning Hamas for the attacks.

Washington has said it hopes China’s friendship with Hamas backer Iran could help calm the conflict, particularly after Beijing brokered a detente between Tehran and its long-time foe Saudi Arabia this year.

“The most pressing task now is to prevent the situation from escalating further and from leading to a more serious humanitarian disaster,” Foreign Minister Wang told Cohen.

He also reiterated Beijing’s position that a two-state solution is the only viable outcome to the conflict.

China “sincerely hopes that the Palestine issue will be resolved in a comprehensive and just manner on the basis of the ‘two-state solution’, and that the legitimate security concerns of all parties will be resolved in a genuine and thorough manner as a result”, Wang said.

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