BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Tuesday it supports the Palestinian bid for U.N. observer status, with a vote on the matter at the United Nations later this month.
China has traditionally had close relations with the Palestinians, but in recent years also has had good ties with Israel, especially in the field of defence.
"China understands, respects and supports the Palestinians' request to enter the United Nations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing.
"China always supports the Palestinian people's just cause of recovering their national and legitimate rights and interests, and will always hold that independent statehood is the lawful right of Palestinian people, and also the basis for a two-state solution."
Washington says it favours eventual statehood for the Palestinians, but wants it to come as a result of negotiations with Israel. The United States can block full recognition of Palestine as a U.N. member at the Security Council, where it has a veto, but the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly can still grant observer status.
U.S.-brokered peace talks have foundered, in part because of continued Jewish settlement-building in the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinians, leaving them no choice but to request recognition without waiting for Israel to agree.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday repeated an offer to restart peace talks with Israel after the U.N. vote.
(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones; Editing by Nick Macfie)