Brics leaders unite in their call for accountability in Middle East conflict

Parliament approves motion calling for closure of Israeli embassy pending ceasefire, UN-led negotiated settlement

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, China's President Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov pose for a picture at the Brics summit in Johannesburg in August. File photo.
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, China's President Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov pose for a picture at the Brics summit in Johannesburg in August. File photo.

Brics leaders are calling for accountability in the conflict in the Middle East which has claimed the lives of thousands of people and left many displaced.  

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.  

Without calling for International Criminal Court's (ICC) intervention directly, 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.” 

The call comes a week after South Africa was one of five states — with Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti — to submit a referral letter to the ICC to investigate the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, as well as to hold those responsible accountable.   

The meeting took place as parliament approved an EFF-sponsored motion to close the Israeli embassy in Pretoria pending a ceasefire and a UN-led negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine. 

The majority of MPs (248) voted in favour, while 91 voted against.

The ANC, EFF, ATM, PAC supported the motion, while the DA, IFP, FF+ ACDP opposed it.  

On Monday night the Israeli government announced that it was recalling its ambassador to South Africa Eliav Belotserkovsky for consultations, further deepening the strained relations between Tel Aviv and Pretoria. 

The Brics bloc of nations met to discuss and to exchange views on the current situation in Gaza and other Palestinian occupied territories as well as its spillover effects. 

They were joined by new member states Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. UN secretary-general António Guterres was also in attendance.    

During their virtual meeting, which was chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the leaders reiterated their commitment to the peaceful resolution of differences and disputes through dialogue and inclusive consultations in a coordinated and cooperative manner and support all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crises.  

“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.”

According to the chair's summary, 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.” 

Ramaphosa joined his counterparts in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians who are being illegally held captive. They also expressed their deep concern at the dire humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.  

“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.” 

They reaffirmed their commitment to the basic principle that peace and security in the Middle East should be achieved and sustained in accordance with, and in full respect for, international law and the United Nations Charter. 

“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.” 

They also reaffirmed that a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means.  

“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.” 



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