New Delhi: India appears to have emerged as a minority of one in the BRICS group’s stand on the Israel-Hamas war with South Africa as the chair taking the lead in mounting a vociferous attack on Israel.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, who hosted the BRICS summit on Tuesday, said that 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,” South Africa President said.
South Africa has also referred Israel to the International Criminal Court while the country’s parliament voted to shut down the Israeli embassy. Israel, on its part, has recalled its ambassador from South Africa.
China, Russia and Brazil also voiced their criticism of Israel although they did not come out as strongly as South Africa.
India was the only country that did not jump on to the bandwagon and stuck to its balanced approach of also condemning terrorism that led to the war.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi skipped the BRICS “extraordinary meeting” and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar attended on his behalf, which perhaps was a signal that India would toe its own line on the issue.
India earlier abstained from a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, arguing that the text did not condemn Hamas.
In his speech at the conference, China’s President Xi Jinping called for a cease-fire and an end to what he called collective punishment by Israel to the people in Gaza. He said the international community should take steps to stop the war from spreading.
China had last month vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that stated that Israel had the right to defend itself.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in his address said there was a “humanitarian catastrophe” unfolding in Gaza and blamed the crisis on what he called the USA’s failed diplomacy.
He asserted that “all these events are a direct consequence of the U.S. desire to monopolise mediation functions in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.”
Putin called for a cease-fire in Gaza, the freeing of hostages and the evacuation of civilians from the Gaza Strip.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, called the war a “humanitarian catastrophe.” He said Hamas’s terrorist attacks, while “barbaric,” did not justify the use of “indiscriminate and disproportionate force against civilians.”
The BRICS group issued a joint statement after the meeting that called for the release of all civilians who are being illegally held captive, as well as a humanitarian truce that would lead to a cessation of hostilities.
“We condemned any kind of individual or mass forcible transfer and deportation of Palestinians from their own land,” the statement said.
Six countries — Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates — which have been invited to join the BRICS group next year, also attended the conference.