Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for a three-day visit. Xi called Abbas a “good friend” and said that China fully supports Palestine. “We have always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights,” Xi stated. China and Palestine have had good diplomatic relations for years, but this is the first time Xi fully committed to helping Palestine restore statehood.
Peace talks between Palestine and Israel ended in 2014. China may have mended tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but Israel-Palestine is another issue entirely. The land dispute in this region can be traced back to biblical days. Historians believe Palestine comes from the word “Philistia” or Philistines who are cited in the Torah and Old Testament as sworn enemies of the Jews. Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike know the story of King David battling the Philistines to become king of Israel, albeit they all interpret him a bit differently.
The region has been taken over by numerous empires over the ages. More recently, after the demise of the Ottoman Empire during the Great War in 1918, the British claimed Palestine. The British then established a Jewish nation in the region in 1923. Two decades later, in 1947, the United Nations decided to split Palestine into two states – one Arab and one Jewish. Arab leaders disagreed with the ruling. Britain withdrew, Israel then became a state in May 1948, leading to the Arab-Israeli War. The war ended in 1949, with Israel claiming control of over two-thirds of the territory. The two have been at odds ever since.
That is an extremely over-simplified version of events, but the hatred runs deep. The West has fully supported Israel in maintaining its territory, and China’s intervention in Palestine will be seen as a threat. “We especially appreciate the Chinese side’s commitment to financing a number of development projects presented by Palestine. We wish the speedy dispatch of technical delegations to implement these projects,” Abbas said. China is strategic. They want to assert dominance in the Middle East, where the West has lost its footing nearly everywhere besides Israel.