The BRICS group of nations Tuesday called for an immediate and sustained humanitarian truce in Gaza during an extraordinary summit. Pretoria hosted a virtual meeting of BRICS – a group of major emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – aimed at drawing up a common response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Representatives from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates – countries that are all due to join BRICS in January 2024 – were also invited to the talks.
"We called for an immediate, durable, and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities," the group said in a summary of the meeting.
"We reiterated our strong support for regional and international efforts aimed at achieving an immediate cessation of hostilities, ensuring the protection of civilians and the provision of humanitarian aid."
Fighting has raged in Gaza after Hamas gunmen killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, during cross-border raids on October 7 – the deadliest attack in Israel's history. In retaliation, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. The war has killed more than 13,300 people, thousands of them children.
"The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the unlawful use of force by Israel is a war crime. The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to the residents of Gaza is tantamount to genocide," said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in an extraordinary BRICS summit on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, being held via videoconference. He said:
“We think the initiative of the President of South Africa, as the current chair of BRICS, to convene an extraordinary summit to discuss the escalation in the Gaza Strip, has come at the right time.
The thousands of deaths and mass expulsion of civilians, the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the area are causing deep concern. Just now, one of our colleagues spoke of the deaths of a large number of children. It is terrible, but when you watch children being operated on without anaesthesia, it certainly evokes intense feelings. And all of that is, in fact, happening as a consequence of the United States’ aspiration to monopolise the mediation role in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement process and block the activities of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators.
This is history’s way of demonstrating that attempts to single-handedly cut the “Palestinian knot” are unviable and counterproductive. Because of the sabotage of UN decisions, which clearly called for the establishment and peaceful coexistence of two independent and sovereign states – Israel and Palestine – more than one generation of Palestinians has grown up in an atmosphere of injustice, and Israelis cannot fully guarantee the security of their state either.
Russia's stance is consistent and independent of momentary conditions. We urge the international community to join efforts aimed at de-escalating the situation, negotiating a ceasefire and achieving a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The BRICS states and the countries in the region could play a key role in this work.
For this reason, it is particularly significant that our colleagues from Middle Eastern countries, which received invitations to become full members of the BRICS this year, are joining our meeting today. I would like to take this opportunity to respectfully acknowledge their efforts to normalise the situation. In particular, I am referring to the Peace Summit hosted by Egypt and the joint Arab-Islamic extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia.
It is worth noting that all BRICS countries have similar positions on the need to collectively reach long-term and durable settlement of the long-standing Palestinian-Israeli problem.
This was reflected during voting on the draft resolution on a humanitarian truce in the UN General Assembly and in discussing a UN Security Council resolution on the Middle East settlement process, which was adopted for the first time in the past seven years. Although this resolution contains merely an appeal for humanitarian pauses rather than a full ceasefire, we consider the very fact of its approval a step in the right direction.
I would like to emphasise that such humanitarian pauses and, better still, a full ceasefire are essential to continue the efforts to free hostages and evacuate civilians and foreigners from the Gaza Strip. I must express again my deep gratitude to President [of Egypt Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi, and all our Egyptian colleagues for their help in resolving many challenging issues linked with receiving and sending home the Russian citizens that had left the conflict area.
Of course, by all accounts, the most urgent goal is to reach a truly long-term and sustainable truce. I agree with my Brazilian colleague that it is important that other states not get drawn into a war in the Middle East and that the conflict not spread in any way, as is preserving the fragile peace between religions.
In this context, we consider it extremely useful to continue discussing subsequent developments in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in BRICS. If there are no objections, colleagues, we will initiate possible contacts, including via videoconference, concerning these issues during Russia’s upcoming BRICS presidency next year.
In general, the new format of emergency online summit meetings suggested by President [of South Africa Cyril] Ramaphosa appears to be quite promising. Importantly, this applies not only to the Middle East settlement but to other urgent global and regional issues.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, saying it is imperative that the parties to the conflict must end hostilities and achieve a ceasefire immediately.
Xi called on the parties to stop all violence and attacks against civilians, release civilians held captive, and act to prevent loss of more lives and spare people from more miseries.
Xi said humanitarian corridors must be kept secure and unimpeded, and more humanitarian assistance should be provided to the population in Gaza.
He said the international community must act with practical measures to prevent the conflict from spilling over and endangering stability in the Middle East as a whole.
He emphasized that the only viable way to break the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in the two-state solution, in the restoration of the legitimate national rights of Palestine, and in the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.
China calls for early convening of an international peace conference that is more authoritative to build international consensus for peace and work toward an early solution to the question of Palestine that is comprehensive, just and sustainable, Xi said.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday called on BRICS leaders to use all economic and political opportunities to put pressure on Israel. "The United States has made all international organizations faceless. Iran wants BRICS members and governments to stand up for security, establish justice and fight racial discrimination in the world, as well as use all their political and economic opportunities and power to exert pressure on Israel and its supporters from Western countries," Raisi at the BRICS extraordinary summit on the Middle East.
"Israel's continuous attacks on hospitals, medical centers and religious sites, as well as the murder of women and children, doctors, nurses and journalists are acts of terrorism, and it is necessary to recognize the Israeli regime as a terrorist regime and its army as a terrorist organization," Raisi said.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called on all countries to stop supplying weapons to Israel. He emphasized that we oppose the forcible eviction of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip while speaking to the BRICS conference via video link. Gaza should immediately resume receiving humanitarian help.
Mohammed bin Salman stressed the necessity of creating a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and we call for the start of meaningful discussions to end the Palestinian conflict.
Describing Hamas's attacks and hostage taking as "barbaric acts" Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said they did "not justify the use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force against civilians".
"The concerns of the Palestinian people must be addressed in a serious and sustainable manner, this can only happen with the two-state solution that is based on peaceful coexistence," said India's foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
In a statement adopted after an emergency extraordinary joint meeting on Tuesday, the leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa stressed the need to pursue accountability. The leaders said: “We must ensure that independent and transparent investigations are conducted in accordance with international standards.
“We condemned any kind of individual or mass forcible transfer and deportation of Palestinians from their own land. Many leaders reiterated that the forced transfer and deportation of Palestinians, whether inside Gaza or to neighbouring countries, constitute grave breaches of the Geneva conventions and war crimes and violations under International Humanitarian Law.”
“We called for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities. We reiterated our strong support for regional and international efforts aimed at achieving an immediate cessation of hostilities, ensuring the protection of civilians and the provision of humanitarian aid.”
The leaders expressed concerns at the latest escalation of violence since the October 7 attack and the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel.
“Acts of violence aimed at Palestinian and Israeli civilians were condemned, including war crimes, indiscriminate attacks and targeting of civilian infrastructure, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction.
“We emphasised that civilians must be protected, in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
“We reiterated the need for full respect of international humanitarian law and the need for full, immediate, safe, unhindered, and sustained humanitarian access and the provision of aid in accordance with the basic principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence established in UNGA resolution 46/182.”
“We joined other global leaders in welcoming the adoption of UNSC resolution 2712 on November 15 under China's UNSC Presidency and called for its full implementation.”
The leaders said they acknowledged the important role played by relevant international and regional organisations, including the League of Arab States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, in addressing threats to peace and security in accordance with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.
They welcomed the briefing by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the outcomes of the joint extraordinary Arab and Islamic Summit and the efforts led by Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in hosting the Cairo Peace Summit.
“We emphasised the importance of preventing further destabilisation and escalation of violence, including the spill over of the conflict in the region and called upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint and, upon all those with influence on them, to work towards this objective.”
“The chair joined calls for the international community to support direct negotiations based on international law, including relevant UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, towards a two-state solution, leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine.”
They also reaffirmed that a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means.
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