BEIJING - China called for a resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians at a conference in Beijing Tuesday, as the rising global power seeks greater diplomatic influence in the Middle East.

"We need to redouble efforts to promote peace talks," assistant foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu said at the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, an event attended by diplomats, UN delegates, academics, and figures from the Palestinian and Israeli parliaments. "The international community should be fully aware of the importance and urgency of settling the Palestinian question and make every effort to promote the resumption of peace talks," he added, on the first day of the two-day conference.

Beijing has traditionally remained distant from Middle East affairs, although it has begun to take a more active diplomatic role in recent years, wielding its UN veto to scuttle some Western-backed proposals on Syria. It now appears to be positioning itself closer to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, which has long been strongly influenced by Washington.

Daniel Ben-Simon, a former Israeli parliamentarian who is a member of the Labor Party, said the growing influence of Beijing within Israeli-Palestinian affairs could bring a new dimension to relations in the region.

Meanwhile, former US president Bill Clinton said during a visit to Israel on Monday that he saw "no alternative" to a Palestinian state.

Speaking at an event in honour of President Shimon Peres' 90th birthday later this year, Clinton said: "I'm with Shimon on this, I don't think that in all these years a credible alternative to the creation of a Palestinian state has been presented."

The two-state solution is the only one "that will preserve the essential character of the state of Israel as a Jewish but democratic state where minorities can vote," Clinton said in the speech at the Peres Academic Centre in Rehovot, near Tel Aviv.

"No matter how many settlers you put out there the Palestinians will have more babies," said Clinton. As the then US president, he presided over the signing of the 1993 Oslo peace accords by Israel's Yitzak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The 1994 Nobel Peace Prize was then awarded jointly to Peres, Rabin and Arafat.

"You're a microcosm of the challenges facing the whole world," Clinton told his listeners, who included several Israeli ministers and lawmakers.

"Your neighbours are still your neighbours... One way or another you're gonna share the future with them."

Several voices within the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have recently spoken out against a two-state solution, including Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

"The idea that a Palestinian state will be founded within the Land of Israel has reached a dead end," Bennett said on Monday, using the biblical term for the Jewish state that includes the West Bank.

Bennett, a former head of a leading settler organisation, was voted into the Knesset this January.

Reports appeared in the media that Clinton would receive $500,000 (375,000 euros) for his speech, causing a furore at a time when the Israeli government is struggling to push through an austerity budget.

The former US president was quoted Monday as saying that the entire amount would go to the Peres Academic Center to finance scholarships.