On Tuesday, November 21st, the BRICS group of nations, in an extraordinary summit, called for an immediate and sustained humanitarian truce in Gaza. The summit, chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, marked a significant shift in the BRICS’ focus from economic to geopolitical issues, particularly in the Middle East.
The virtual meeting, hosted by Pretoria, saw the BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – joined by several Arab and African guest countries, collectively denouncing Israel’s actions in Gaza as war crimes and genocide. Ramaphosa, in a strong statement, accused Israel of the collective punishment of Palestinian civilians, describing it as a war crime tantamount to genocide. He emphasized the need for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire and the deployment of a UN force to monitor the cessation of hostilities and protect civilians.
The conflict in Gaza escalated following an October 7 attack by Hamas, resulting in around 1,200 deaths, mostly civilians, in Israel. Israel’s subsequent bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza have led to over 13,300 deaths, including thousands of children. The BRICS leaders’ call for a truce underscores the growing concern over the humanitarian crisis in the region.
Chinese President Xi Jinping also addressed the summit, advocating for an international peace conference to resolve the conflict. Xi’s call for a more authoritative international response reflects China’s active role in promoting peace talks and easing the humanitarian plight in Gaza.
The BRICS’ stance, instigated by South Africa, is seen as a turning point in the group’s approach to global issues. South Africa, reflecting on its own history of apartheid, has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause. The country recently recalled its diplomats from Israel and joined other nations in calling for an International Criminal Court investigation into the conflict.
The meeting’s outcome indicates a growing assertiveness of the BRICS nations in international affairs, particularly in challenging Western influence and leadership in global politics. This shift could have significant implications for the future of international diplomacy and the resolution of longstanding conflicts like the Israeli-Palestinian issue.