Saturday, December 9, 2023

Brics demands immediate truce in Gaza

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The Brics grouping on Tuesday called for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas while expressing its deep concern over the dire humanitarian crisis triggered by the raging conflict between the two sides.

Brics held an extraordinary meeting on the situation in the Middle East with particular reference to Gaza on Tuesday. (AFP)

“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,” the Brics (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) grouping said in a Chair’s Summary issued after an extraordinary meeting on the situation in the Middle East with particular reference to Gaza.

India said the Israel-Hamas conflict, triggered by the October 7 terrorist attack, was causing immense human suffering in Gaza while welcoming the efforts of the international community towards de-escalation and drawing attention to the urgent need to ensure that humanitarian aid and relief reached the Palestinian city.

“It is also imperative that all (Israeli) hostages are released,” external affairs minister S Jaishankar said.

“We believe that there is a universal obligation to observe international humanitarian law. We are all aware that the immediate crisis was triggered by the terrorist attack of October 7. Where terrorism itself is concerned, none of us should and can compromise with it.”

The minister was virtually addressing the extraordinary joint meeting. He was representing Prime Minister Narendra Modi who could not attend the meeting due to other commitments.

The Brics grouping emphasised the importance of preventing further destabilisation and escalation of violence, including the spillover of the conflict in the region and called upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint.

Along with the need for restraint and immediate humanitarian support, India also emphasises the peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy, Jaishankar said in his address.

India has adopted a nuanced approach towards the developments in the Middle East. Other Brics members have taken a hard line on the raging war.

The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the unlawful use of force by Israel is a war crime, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his opening remarks.

“The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to the residents of Gaza is tantamount to genocide. The atrocities that we have witnessed are the latest chapter in a painful history of suffering, oppression, occupation and conflict going back more than 75 years,” he added.

An AFP report from Johannesburg quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as saying that there can be no sustainable peace and security in the Middle East without a just solution to the question of Palestine.

Jaishankar said India believed that the concerns of the Palestinian people must be addressed in a serious and sustainable manner.

“This can only happen with a two-state solution that is based on peaceful co-existence. We have been consistently supportive of international efforts towards this end.” Earlier in Delhi, India and Australia backed the two-state solution to resolve the decades-old conflict and bring lasting peace to the troubled region.

“Over the years, India has supported the socio-economic welfare of the Palestinian people and strengthening of their national institutions. Our developmental partnership is geared towards these objectives. We continue to provide assistance both bilaterally and through the UN,” Jaishankar said at the Brics summit.

The international community is facing a complex situation with many dimensions, he said. “We have to address them all and yet have to prioritise. Our endeavour should be to both make a difference on the ground immediately while also creating conditions for lasting solutions,” Jaishankar added.

The special meeting was convened by South Africa and included countries that will soon be a part of the grouping: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates.

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