Middle East LATEST: Ramaphosa to chair virtual BRICS summit on Gaza as Israel recalls ambassador

Middle East USA World

The BRICS summit will take place hot on the heels of news that Israel has recalled its ambassador to South Africa ‘for consultations’.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will also participate in the virtual meeting during which BRICS leaders are expected on Tuesday to adopt a joint statement on the situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to Gaza, according to the South African Presidency.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the opening remarks while member states, as well as the six countries that were admitted to the bloc at its summit in Johannesburg in August (Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates), will also deliver country statements on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza

BRICS summit to take place as Israel recalls ambassador to SA

The virtual summit will take place hot on the heels of the news that Israel has recalled its ambassador to South Africa, Eliav Belotserkovsky, “for consultations” as Parliament was expected to vote on Tuesday on whether to close the Israeli embassy in South Africa.

“Against the background of recent comments from South Africa, the Israel ambassador to South Africa has been called for consultations in Jerusalem,” read a short statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued on Monday night.

SA calls on ICC for arrest warrant

During a press briefing on Monday, South African Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the government has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by mid-December.

The country has already recalled its own ambassador and diplomatic staff from Israel, and the government has repeatedly described the Israeli campaign against Hamas in Gaza as “genocide”.

ALSO READ: Israel recalls ambassador amid ‘latest statements from SA’

Putin to attend virtual BRICS summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to take part in the video conference to discuss the Israel-Hamas war  which has left thousands of casualties on both sides.

“On November 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin will participate in an extraordinary BRICS summit (via video conference) to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” the Kremlin said in a statement on Monday, 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, will be represented by Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Although the official explanation is a scheduling problem, according to Daily Maverick it is believed that the real reason could be India’s outlier position on the Middle East conflict.

India and Middle East

India is the only BRICS member which abstained from the UN General Assembly resolution on 26 October calling for “an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas and for unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza. 

India explained that it did not support the resolution because it failed to condemn Hamas for its brutal 7 October border raids on Israel, in which it killed more than 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and took about 250 hostages. In retaliation, Israel launched an attack on Hamas in Gaza which by Monday, 20 November had killed about 13,000 people, also mostly civilians.

ALSO READ: ‘We expect warrants for Israeli leaders and Benjamin Netanyahu shortly’ – Ntshavheni