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China proposes a Gaza peace conference while the US and Israel double down on war

The majority of the global public want peace – can Beijing help bring this about, asks FIONA EDWARDS of No Cold War 

AFTER three-and-a-half months of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza, which has been entirely sustained by the United States, China’s proposal for a “large-scale” and “authoritative” international conference to discuss peace in Gaza is an important and judicious initiative that reflects the views of the overwhelming majority of global public opinion favouring an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.      

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced the idea of a Gaza peace conference on January 14, during his trip to Egypt. China’s proposals include a call for the international community to take immediate action to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza and to ensure rapid and barrier-free delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip — which is currently impossible due to Israel’s siege.

China has set out that the basic principle for discussing the future of Gaza must be “Palestinians governing Palestine.” China continues to make the case that the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, is the key to a lasting peace.   

This proposal for an international peace conference on Gaza comes at a critical moment. 

The situation facing the Palestinians in Gaza is widely understood to be catastrophic. Over 25,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since October 7, 70 per cent of them women and children, and more than 63,000 Palestinians have been injured.

Israel’s indiscriminate and systematic destruction of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure — including homes, hospitals and schools — is designed to make it uninhabitable in order to advance Israel’s aim of ethnic cleansing. The UN estimates 1.9 million people have been displaced.

Israel’s siege on Gaza is causing unimaginable suffering as famine and disease spreads. The UN has said that more than half a million people in Gaza — a quarter of the population — are starving. 

This is a US-Israeli attack on Gaza 

Israel would not be in a position to wage its genocidal attack on Gaza without US support. 

In November 2023 retired IDF Major General Itzhak Brick explained this in the clearest terms: “All of our missiles, the ammunition, the precision-guided bombs, all the aeroplanes and the bombs, it’s all from the US. The minute they turn off the tap, you can’t keep fighting. You have no capability. Everyone understands that we can’t fight this war without the United States. Period.”

The US provides Israel with $3.8 billion in military aid annually and between October 7 and December 25 2023 sent 230 cargo planes and 20 ships loaded with weapons and military equipment to Israel. 

There should be no illusions that it is the US that is ultimately responsible for the atrocities in Gaza and therefore the US could bring an end to the war at any time. The US-Israel relationship is best understood with the US as the mafia boss and Israel as the brutal local gangster.

US support for Israel at the UN has been unwavering throughout the Gaza offensive. The US used its UN security council veto three times since October 7 to block resolutions demanding an immediate Gaza ceasefire.

In general assembly votes in favour of an immediate ceasefire the US has found itself in a tiny minority against a global majority. On October 27 2023 the general assembly passed a resolution calling for an immediate Gaza ceasefire and unhindered access to humanitarian aid. Some 120 countries voted in favour; 14 countries voted against including the US and Israel.

At the general assembly on December 12 2023, 153 countries voted for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” with only 10 countries voting against, including the US and Israel. 

Simultaneously tens of millions of people across the world have mobilised in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the biggest global anti-war movement of the 21st century — a movement that has underlined how isolated the US and Israel are. 

Economic decline is driving the US’s aggressive foreign policy agenda  

In light of the extreme isolation that the US faces internationally for backing Israel’s brutal attack on Gaza, many in the global anti-war movement have questioned what is driving the US to pursue such an aggressive and unpopular foreign policy. 

The following quote from an edition of The Economist in October 2023 makes it clear: “The Israel-Hamas war will define America’s global role. President Joe Biden has sent two hulking aircraft carriers to support Israel. They are a 200,000-tonne show of strength at a time when much of the world believes that American power is in decline. The war and its aftermath will test that perception against reality.” 

In short: the US’s support for Israel’s barbaric actions on Gaza is deemed necessary in order to demonstrate the US’s military power and defend its role as global hegemon. 

The Economist correctly identifies that “much of the world believes that American power is in decline” — and much of the world believes this because it is the truth. 

China’s peaceful rise over the past 40 years has significantly altered the international balance of power — a fact that political elites in Washington regard as a threat to the US’s global hegemony. 

When measured in purchasing power parity terms (PPP) China’s economy has overtaken the US’s economy. As the Financial Times recently pointed out China’s economy is now 22 per cent larger than the US’s.

Over the past decade China contributed 40 per cent to global growth while the US contributed only 22 per cent and the eurozone 9 per cent. The US has not been able to alter its relative economic decline either by making the US’s economy stronger and more competitive, nor have its cold war measures succeeded in significantly slowing down China’s economy. 

To compensate for declining economic power, the US is increasingly resorting to military aggression. In the past two years the US has significantly escalated military aggression through the US/Nato proxy war in Ukraine against Russia, the massive US-led military build-up against China in the Pacific and the US’s support for Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.  

The US and Nato’s failure to achieve its aim of “weakening Russia” and attain military victory in Ukraine, despite the enormous military resources poured into the conflict by Nato states over the past two years, is a significant blow to US foreign policy. In these circumstances, for US imperialism “victory” for Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza is vital for its status internationally as the global policeman.   

The global majority want peace 

In pursuing an aggressive foreign policy agenda the US is defying a global majority of both countries and public opinion which supports peace and economic prosperity not war. 

Every day it is becoming clearer to millions of people across the world that the main obstacle to peace is the US and its closest allies, including Britain. It is the US and Britain that oppose a Gaza ceasefire, continue to arm Israel and widen the conflict regionally through launching military air strikes on Yemen.

Given China’s superpower status, Beijing’s proposal for a peace conference to end the war in Gaza is an extremely significant diplomatic development posing a challenge to the Western warmongers. It is a proposal that should be welcomed by the international peace movement and seriously engaged with as a contribution to the international struggle for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.     

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