South Africa will host a virtual summit of the BRICS group of nations, which includes Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday to discuss the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group, Pretoria and Moscow announced on Monday.
The BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are a group of large emerging economies seeking to reshape the global order led by the United States and the West.
The “Extraordinary Joint Meeting on the Situation in the Middle East in Gaza” will be hosted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday in the hope of developing a joint response to the conflict which has lasted for more than six weeks.
The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates – all of whom are expected to join the BRICS group in January 2024 – will attend the meeting.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also participate, the South African presidency said in a statement.
He added that all five BRICS heads of state would join the virtual summit, after which a joint statement with particular reference to Gaza is expected.
The war erupted after the October 7 Hamas massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists cross the Israeli border from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and capturing more than 240 hostages from all ages.
In Gaza, officials say about 13,300 people, including more than 5,500 children, have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory air and ground offensive, which aims to destroy the terror group’s infrastructure. The figures are published by the Hamas-run health ministry and cannot be independently verified. They would include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, particularly following failed rocket attacks by terrorist groups.
South Africa has long supported the Palestinian cause, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, often linking it to its own struggle against apartheid.
The ANC said last Thursday it would support a parliamentary motion to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel until it agrees to a ceasefire in Gaza, denouncing the “genocidal actions of the Israeli regime.”
South Africa on Friday joined four other countries in calling for an International Criminal Court investigation into the war between Israel and Hamas.
China has always been sympathetic to the Palestinians and supportive of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Beijing has been calling for an immediate ceasefire since the war began last month.
India, which has tried to balance its current close ties with Israel and its traditional support for the Palestinians, could play a moderating role.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of stoking tensions in the Middle East and criticized Israel for its conduct in the conflict.
Putin did not attend the latest annual BRICS summit in Johannesburg because he is the target of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court – a provision that South Africa, as a member of the ICC, would have to apply if he set foot in the country.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
Gn En world