BEIJING, Nov 20 — The international community must take urgent action to stop the “humanitarian disaster” unfolding in Gaza, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told visiting diplomats from Arab and Muslim-majority nations on Monday.

A delegation of foreign ministers of the Palestinian Authority, Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are in Beijing this week for talks aimed at a “de-escalation” of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“Let us work together to quickly cool down the situation in Gaza and restore peace in the Middle East as soon as possible,” Wang told foreign ministers in opening remarks in Beijing.

“A humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Gaza,” Wang told the delegates, including the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

“The situation in Gaza affects all countries around the world, questioning the human sense of right and wrong and humanity’s bottom line,” he said.

“The international community must act urgently, taking effective measures to prevent this tragedy from spreading,” Beijing’s top diplomat added.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas over October 7 attacks that it says killed 1,200 people and saw 240 hostages taken, in the worst-ever onslaught on the country.

In Hamas-run Gaza, the government says at least 13,000 people have been killed in Israel’s relentless aerial bombardment and ground operations.

Most of the casualties on both sides are civilians.

Following the outbreak of the war last month, Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Wang, called for an immediate ceasefire and a “cooling down” of the situation.

China has historically been sympathetic to the Palestinians and supportive of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Wang told the diplomats on Monday that Beijing was “a good friend and brother of Arab and Muslim countries”.

“We have always firmly defended the legitimate rights and interests of Arab and Muslim countries and have always firmly supported the Palestinian people’s efforts to restore their legitimate national rights and interests,” he said.

“China firmly stands with justice and fairness in this conflict,” he added.

Since the war broke out, Beijing has “not only contacted all parties through bilateral channels to promote peace and talks, but also used multilateral platforms to build consensus for the restoration of peace”, Wang said.

“We are willing to work together with our brothers and sisters in Arab and Islamic countries to make unremitting efforts to settle the war in Gaza as soon as possible,” he added. — AFP