South Africa will Tuesday host a virtual summit of the BRICS group of nations, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, to discuss the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group, Pretoria and Moscow said Monday.
The BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are a group of major emerging economies seeking to reshape the US and Western-led global order.
Tuesday’s “Extraordinary Joint Meeting on the Middle East Situation in Gaza” will be hosted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in the hope of drawing up a common response to the more than six-week conflict.
Leaders from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates — who are all due 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.
It added that all five BRICS heads of state will join the virtual summit, after which a joint statement with particular reference to Gaza is expected.
War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages.
In Gaza, officials say around 13,300 people, more than 5,500 of them children, have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory air and ground offensive, which aims to destroy the terror group’s infrastructure. The figures are issued by the Hamas-run health ministry and cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.
South Africa has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party often linking it to its own struggle against apartheid.
The ANC said last Thursday that it would support a parliamentary motion to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel until it agrees to a ceasefire in Gaza, decrying the “genocidal actions of the Israeli regime.”
On Friday, South Africa joined four other nations in calling for an International Criminal Court investigation into the Israel-Hamas war.
China has historically 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 start of the war last month.
India, which has tried to balance its current close ties with Israel and its traditional support for the Palestinians, may be a moderating voice.
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 skipped the last BRICS annual summit in Johannesburg, as he is the target of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant — a provision that South Africa as an ICC member would be expected to implement if he were to set foot in the country.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.