China renewed its call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and for Israel to stop its “collective punishment” of people in the war zone as foreign ministers from a group of Arab and Muslim-majority countries met in Beijing on a peace mission on Monday.

“It is imperative that the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly be fully implemented and that an immediate ceasefire be put in place to halt the fighting,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, adding it was not a diplomatic term, but “a matter of life or death for the Gaza people”.

Wang also urged Israel to open a humanitarian corridor “as soon as possible to prevent a wider humanitarian disaster”.

Israel has described its military actions in Gaza as self-defence following an attack by Hamas last month in which more than 1,200 people were killed and roughly 240 taken hostage – some of whom have since been found dead.

“China opposes any forced displacement and forcible transfer targeting Palestinian civilians. Israel should stop its collective punishment of the people of Gaza,” the foreign ministry quoted Wang as saying.


Premature babies evacuated from al-Shifa after Israeli troops seize Gaza’s biggest hospital

Premature babies evacuated from al-Shifa after Israeli troops seize Gaza’s biggest hospital

Wang made the call during talks with his counterparts from Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Indonesia. Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, is also part of the delegation that is in the Chinese capital on the two-day mission.

Riyad al-Maliki, the foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority, said the war aimed to “eliminate the existence of the Palestinian people on what remained of their historical land in Palestine”.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud echoed the ceasefire call, saying Gaza was facing “dangerous developments and a humanitarian crisis” and relief supplies should be allowed in.

“The stifling humanitarian catastrophe requires effective international action to deal with it and confront it,” he said.

Beijing is the first stop for the group which is planning to meet representatives of each of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The other four are Britain, France, Russia, and the United States.

Israeli ambassador to Beijing Irit Ben-Abba said on Monday that she hoped there would not be any statements from this visit about a ceasefire.

“Now is not the time,” Reuters quoted her as saying.


Where China stands on the Israel-Gaza war

Where China stands on the Israel-Gaza war

Wang said Beijing would continue to work with Arabic and Muslim countries towards a ceasefire, and would also help to release people detained in the conflict.

He also said China “firmly upholds the legitimate rights of Arab and Islamic countries” and “supports the just cause of the Palestinian people to recover their national rights”.

Repeating China’s call for a “two-state solution”, he said the Palestine issue was “the core issue of the Middle East” and the root of the conflict was “the persistent disregard for the rights of the Palestinian people”.

In that time, Beijing has repeatedly called for an independent Palestine under a “two-state solution” and for protection of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.

It has not condemned Hamas’ attack on Israeli civilians or referred to it as a terrorist organisation.


Palestinian death toll over 10,000 in Israel-Hamas war, with Gaza casualty figures in spotlight

Palestinian death toll over 10,000 in Israel-Hamas war, with Gaza casualty figures in spotlight

Liu Xinlu, director of the school of Arabic studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said there was a growing desire in Arab and Muslim countries for China to take part in a settlement of the Palestinian issue.

“The Palestinian issue has gone far beyond Palestine, Israel and Hamas themselves, with many Middle Eastern countries, including global powers, becoming influential forces,” he said.

Liu said China had “natural advantages” to allow it to engage with regional and global powers, such as Iran, Turkey, Russia, even the United States, and would look for diplomatic solutions with Israel and Iran to find “common ground”.