Much has been written in recent times about China’s growing interest and stake in the Middle East, and its potential involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although Beijing’s intentions are debatable and the exact nature of China’s involvement is hard to pin down, a number of pronouncements suggest that China may be a serious new actor in the region. In May 2013, Beijing put forward a five-point resolution to the Palestinian issue, followed last year by Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s peace proposal for settling the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Although China appears to be a new entrant to the region’s diplomacy, this “recent” interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict is actually not so novel. Under Mao China was a strong supporter of various “liberation movements” around the world. Friendly relations with Palestine from this period have persisted to the present day (Beijing did not establish diplomatic relations with Israel until 1992). With the end of the Cold War and changing international and domestic circumstances (thirst for oil among them), China has redefined its Middle Eastern diplomacy to reflect its changing preferences and interest in the region. The question we have put to our scholarly contributors to this special issue, is simple: what kind of role can, should or will China play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Confirmed contributors include:

Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, University of Manchester

Yiyi Chen, Peking University

Robert R. Bianchi, University of Chicago

James M. Dorsey, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore

Yoram Evron, University of Haifa

Meron Medzini, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Manochehr Dorraj, Texas Christian University

Yitzhak Shichor, University of Haifa

Sam Chester, Johns Hopkins University

Guy Burton, University of Nottingham

Harry Chen, Penn State University

Image credit: CC by Israel Defense Forces/Flickr.